I like this interview with Kevin Youkilis in the Daily News, as he appears totally unwilling to take the bait we usually see laid for new members of the Yankees, especially ones who had a long tenure with another team.
You know the bait I mean: interviews which seem geared toward getting the player to talk about how special it is to be a Yankee and how much different and better and important it is. There’s almost a propaganda aspect to it, actually. The first spring training interview with a new Yankee player is the first chance the tabloids or talk radio get to place the new guy in the True Yankee Continuum.
Here Youkilis, while sounding totally professional about his new team and new challenges, and while handling questions about hot button topics like A-Rod, Joba Chamberlain and The Rivalry, doesn’t lose perspective about his career:
“To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house, to say I’d just throw it out the window, that’s not true,” Youkilis said. “I’ll always be a Red Sock.”
It’ll be interesting to watch how the Yankees media reacts to and treats Youkilis this season. I imagine there’s a pretty big temptation to play up the Boston-New York stuff. Maybe even to use this quote against him somehow. But to me it sounds like he’s going to navigate it OK. Neither falling into the Yankees genuflection many expect of new arrivals nor allowing himself to be portrayed as some sort of heel.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.