The Yankees announced yesterday that they’ll retire Paul O’Neill’s No. 21 this season on Aug. 21. “The Warrior” won four World Series rings in the Bronx, manning right field and serving as a formidable force in the heart of many stacked Yankees lineups throughout their most recent run of dominance in the American League. O’Neill spent nine seasons as a Yankee, spanning 1993 to 2001, batting a combined .303/.373/.492 with 185 home runs. A four-time Yankees All-Star who garnered MVP votes in each of those four seasons, O’Neill also thrived in the postseason with the Yankees — evidenced by a .282/.355/.459 output and 26 extra-base hits in 304 plate appearances.
A couple more notes out of the Bronx…
- Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News takes a look at the Yankees’ unsettled infield mix, noting that Gleyber Torres’ regression both at shortstop and with the bat leave the team with a good bit of uncertainty. DJ LeMahieu tells Ackert he’s comfortable playing at any of first base, second base or third base, but his bat best fits at second if LeMahieu’s own regression at the dish cannot be fully recovered from. Torres did post a .300/.372/.443 line in 19 games after the Yankees finally cut the cord on his time at shortstop late last season, though opinions surely vary on whether that was correlation or causation. Regardless, the downturns at the plate for both Torres and LeMahieu are troubling for a team that still needs to address its need at shortstop and is also trying to figure out who’ll man first base for the 2022 season.
- Right-hander Brendan Beck, the Yankees’ second-round pick from the 2021 draft, will miss most (if not all) of the 2022 season after quietly undergoing Tommy John surgery last summer, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel reports (Twitter link). The Stanford product had been gearing up for his pro debut in A-ball when he incurred the injury. Beck, 23, notched a 3.15 ERA with a 32.6% strikeout rate and 5.9% walk rate in 108 2/3 frames in his final season with Stanford. Baseball America ranked him 12th among Yankees farmhands on their midseason prospect rankings last summer, but his pro debut will now likely be on hold until the 2023 season, at which point he’ll be 24 years old. While that hardly makes it too late for him to develop as expected, it’s a considerably older starting point than most prospects get on their pro careers.