Indians

Terry Francona and Yandy Diaz: A (very) Public Divide

Yandy Diaz WFNY Preview

Generally, publicly available scouting reports and public organizational statements are relatively similar. Indeed, it is infrequent that a plethora of publicly available information would contradict the opinion of the Indians and manager Terry Francona.  Francona since late February, however, has maintained that farmhand utility man Yandy Diaz likely is not ready defensively:

“Defensively, he’s still a work in progress…”

Francona continued his assault Diaz’ defensive competency just two days ago:

“But the other stuff (problems in the field) doesn’t go unnoticed, either.”

Hearing Francona discuss Diaz defense one would expect that these knocks would be common public knowledge but until a month ago, few had heard such criticisms of young Mr. Diaz. Here is widely respected prospect guru John Sickels, formerly of Baseball America with his 2017 prospect report (emphasis ours):

12) Yandy Diaz, 3B, Grade B-: Age 25, Cuban, hit .318/.408/.446 with nine homers, 71 walks, 86 strikeouts in 444 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; polished hitter with very good feel for hitting, consistently puts bat on ball for hard contact; home run power not strong and given his age you wouldn’t think a lot more would come, but I think it is possible it still may do so; above-average glove at third base. I like him. ETA: 2017.

Am I just being opportunistic in which scouting report I pick? No. Eric Longenhagen Fangraphs Lead Prospect Analyst:

There are scouts who think he could play a passable shortstop. He played at several different positions (second base, third, left field, right) this year in preparation for his utility destiny but he’s best, and plus, at third base.

Clay Davenport’s minor league defensive projections have Yandy Diaz at plus-5 in right field and 0, or average, at third base in Columbus in 2016. Don’t buy into defense projections? There is more.

Every year Baseball America polls minor league managers at each level who the best defender is at every position. Yandy Diaz was voted by the managers in the Carolina League as the best defensive third baseman at the level in 2014. One time? No big deal, random things can happen. Interestingly, in 2016, Diaz won the same award at AA as best defensive third baseman in the Eastern League as voted by managers.

Our own Jim Pete who covered Carolina  at Indians Baseball Insider when Diaz was there:

Really interesting in all of this is that every one of these information sources, all respected in the industry did not just say Diaz was a competent defender but more above average to plus at third base. Meanwhile, every word coming out of Arizona appear to be aimed to dampen any excitement surrounding a player whose bat is far and away better than what someone like Michael Martinez can bring to the table.

Francona and the public appear to be, in this moment, diametrically opposed. Francona deserves respect and deference. Yet, when pressed there is little specificity about Diaz’ flaws, but rather broad platitudes about “finished products.” With this sort of polar discrepancy between public and private evaluation we are faced with three potential realities.

  1. The public evaluators, and minor league managers are horrendously wrong.
  2. The Indians and Francona are wrong.
  3. The Indians are playing super-2 and player control games with Diaz and need a reason to substantiate this decision.

The third appears most likely, but Diaz’ age—25 soon turning 26—makes this sort of contract manipulation strange. Teams like the Indians generally are not so concerned with player contract status at ages 31-33 but rather with a players late 20’s. That the Indians are vying for a World Series this year while having no idea what 2023 holds makes this all the more curious.

In the near future, either the public or the Indians will likely look foolish. Only one of the parties, however, benefits from Diaz returning to Triple-A Columbus.

Other 2017 Cleveland Indians Preview Articles

  • Steve

    Also #4, it gives him something to point back to when Michael Martinez runs out there on Opening Day.

  • This bizarre, collective rhetoric may have worked a decade ago when fans didn’t have access to the things they do now. If this is a Super-2 move, it’s inexcusable given the contention window.

  • jpftribe

    Who do you DFA to clear a roster spot on the 40 man? Jackson, Shaffer and MM are also not on the 40 man.

  • Hopwin

    Is this the same Terry Francona who started Juan Uribe and Carlos Santana at third?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/068b8c3ff52c20b2912b10b9d35bfd55fdad3855825b59af8e32ea9f19382414.gif

  • Steve

    It’s inexcusable in the fact that when Kipnis is back, Diaz, or whoever gets that spot, is going back down to the minors anyway. You can game the service time then.

    They’re not bringing a guy up to try to hold down the job all season, like Naquin last year. And even if they were, you are still allowed to demote a guy midseason. The service time argument makes the least sense to me.

  • Steve

    Anderson to the 60 day, Cooney, Frias, Goody already were DFA/waiver guys earlier this offseason, and Milner returned to Philly. Plenty of room. They have 25 pitchers on the 40 man as is, so some of those guys are toast regardless of what roster moves we need to make for the 25.

  • Hopwin

    Bryan Shaw

  • jpftribe

    Totally agree, this FO is not that stupid. If he can help them win now, he’s gonna play. Issue is the roster spot and the moves they have to make to get him on it. One of those is to wait to see how long Kipnis is really going to be gone. I love Yandy’s bat, but Shaffer is the better all around player right now. If you’re gonna lose Shaffer to promote Yandy, might want to hold off on that decision as long as you can.

  • Steve

    You won’t be losing Shaffer, he already cleared waivers. Even if we did have to expose him again, he cleared 28 of 29 teams when we picked him up, and then all 29 again when most organizations still had open spots on their 40. As those spots are all but filled, and teams are looking to get their Austin Jacksons on the roster, I can’t imagine anyone swooping in now.

  • mgbode

    Whoa, whoa, whoa.

    Juan Uribe was a good defensive third baseman (he just couldn’t hit)

    https://vine.co/v/i9iJtluFUg5

  • Hopwin
  • Steve

    Rate-wise, 7th among guys with at least 20 games, 4th among guys with at least 60.

  • Hopwin

    I feel like you two watch different Indians games than I saw. I saw a fat old guy who could stop a ball but barely cleared the mound when throwing over to 1b. You two really saw a +defender over there?

  • Steve

    I’m interested in how much more steam this can pick up through mostly grassroots means. Diaz wasn’t getting much attention – he didn’t get called up in September, and before Spring Training even began, he was mentioned with Zimmer and Allen as guys that were there just for the experience and would be sent to AAA. Bastian was happy to continue his work as a water-carrier for the team, passing along Francona quotes without question, Hoynes is off in outer space doing whatever he does, so he can’t be bothered to notice. It seems like the push for Diaz came from those fans and bloggers with more access than ever before.

  • Steve

    I will not argue against the lack of beauty in Uribe’s play, just merely note that the metrics like him defensively.

  • mgbode

    Yes, he didn’t quite have the range of his youth, but he was phenomenal at the balls he could get to and great instincts at where to go with the ball (whether to attempt to turn two or to get the solitary out).

    He was a +defender

  • mgbode

    Zuppe is the most maintream guy pushing for Yandy.

  • Steve

    He just gained a loyal fan.

    Relatedly, any opinions out there on if The Athletic is worth it yet? I’ll get around to subscribing, but want to make sure the content is consistent enough first.

  • mgbode

    Worth also noting that Bastian asked more specific questions about Diaz and his defense:
    https://t.co/yGSinjDSKZ

  • Steve

    I saw that, and the questions seemed like softball tosses. As if Kellyanne was interviewing Trump. Good details on what he’s working on, but when no one asks what happened in the last three years that Diaz played 3B that they are referring to his work there as “10 days” or why he wasn’t put back when Guyer and Crisp were acquired if he so desperately needed reps, I’m not finding it terribly helpful. All I get is countless versions of “Diaz isn’t ready”.

  • mgbode

    Agreed it doesn’t change anything in this article by Hattery. Still good to have a more nuanced look at things rather than the generic quotes that were the only substance before Bastian’s article.

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  • Mike Hattery

    Yes, this is definitely something worth noting though hopefully does not impact decisions.

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