Was Sending Down Ronald Torreyes the Right Move?
Over the past few days, people have flooded the WFAN and ESPN radio lines with calls ripping the New York Yankees apart for sending down Ronald Torreyes. The 25-year-old was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being a mainstay utility player on the Yankees team for the past few years. This move coincides with the team removing Greg Bird from the disabled list and putting him on the active 25-man roster.
As said before, this decision was much maligned by Yankee fans for a few reasons. One, they believe that Torreyes is much more valuable as a jack of all trades than Tyler Austin is as a backup first baseman. Two, the underdog story of Torreyes gives him a ton of leeway with Yankee fans. The little engine that could does no wrong in the eyes of fans, and he is essentially a very poor man’s Jose Altuve at this point when looking at his stature to production ratio. It’s a good debate, so let’s have at it as to why Torreyes should or should not be sent down.
Why it Was a Good Move
For starters, Torreyes being sent down to Triple-A is not a reflection on him, it’s more of a numbers game. Torreyes is at best the second best player at the three infield positions he plays, and with Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Didi Gregorius all being durable every day players (at least so far), he is more of a luxury than a necessity to stay in the majors.
Torreyes being sent down also doesn’t mean that he won’t be back with the Bronx Bombers soon. As much as it’s a numbers game, it’s also a strategy game. At the time he was sent down, the Yankees have a stretch of 14 games in 13 days. This means that instead of sending down a lesser reliever like A.J. Cole to the minors, they sent down Torreyes because they need the 13 pitchers for this long stretch. In reality, if the Yankees have a few days off they’ll probably bring him back up.
Finally, the main reason why he was sent down and not a pitcher or Tyler Austin is because of the fragility of Greg Bird. The first baseman is coming off another freak ankle injury that seems to be more the norm and less the freak accident nowadays. This is the third time Bird has come back after an extended period on the disabled list, and if he doesn’t put together a near full healthy rest of the season, he will be looked at as an extremely injury prone player. Bird being so fragile means that the Yankees need an immediate insurance policy on the team, and that man is Tyler Austin. Sure, Neil Walker can also play first base and has been great of late, but he’s not an every day first baseman and Austin has also played very well. At the end of the day, this move actually shows how little faith they see in Bird staying healthy through this stretch.
Why the Yankees Should Have Re-Thought This
Torreyes may not be Altuve, or Joey Cora for that matter, but he is a very important part of this ball club, both in and out of the clubhouse. The main reason why most people were upset with this move was because of how much they liked Torreyes and how many “intangibles” he brings to the Bronx Bombers. He is a team-first guy who loves to have fun in the dugout and always has a positive attitude.
He can also play, which is another big reason why the Yankees may miss him. He may not be an every day player, or at least perceived to be that, but he has literally produced every time he’s come to bat, regardless of the year. He is currently batting .339 in 62 plate appearances, and has six RBIs. For a man who doesn’t get to play much, being that productive in that short of a span is nothing short of fantastic.
Intangibles are things that really can’t be seen, but we all know that Torreyes has them. Whether it be joking around with Gregorius before an at bat, or interviewing the Yankees sluggers after each home run, he brings a joyous attitude to the clubhouse that is infectious. It’s not to say that the Yankees are a no-nonsense team without him, but you need a guy like that to blow off some steam when things aren’t going well.
With that being said, I don’t think it’s a huge deal that Torreyes was sent down. Like I said before, he’s going to come back sometime soon, and he will be a big part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Worrying about a role player on one of the best teams in baseball is kind of silly, regardless of how many intangibles he has. He is a great clubhouse guy, but the Yankees chemistry isn’t just between him and everyone else, and I doubt they will go into a tailspin without him. The Yankees without him are 2-2 so far, and they won another series against the Angels to end the week. They lost to the Astros on Monday afternoon, but Justin Verlander was on the mound and there’s not much any of the Yankees could do.
Check back with me in a few months if the Yankees lose ten straight series, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. If Barry Bonds can be dealt, the Yankees can play without Ronald Torreyes.