Thursday, August 25, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:36 AM
They didn't mention Kevin Maas. Nor did Shane Spencer's name pop up. Jesus Montero? Nope. And nobody discussed Bird's long road back. They rejoiced over two Ruthian small sample sizes. and I don't blame them. I'll drink that Kool-Aid, if it gets me through September.
But once again, we've seen this movie: Team meets boy, team falls in love, boy stops hitting, silhouettes hauntingly dance across hillside to the existential calling of Death. (It's a Bergman reference, deal with it, motherfucker.)
Let's go to the Internet. First, Kevin Maas, bro of Jason. In 1990 (at age 25) Maas hit 21 HRs in 79 games, becoming an immediate Yankee heart throb, a Rob Lowe lookalike. The next year, he hit 23, but batted just .220. (Today, those are Tex and McCann numbers on the Indian Point Power Report.) Three years later, Maas was gone. Over his career, he hit 65 HRs and batted .230. He's also remembered as the namesake for a great Yankee fan site, which ran between 2005 and 2014.
In 1998, Shane Spencer arrived (at age 26). He hit 10 HRs in 27 games - .373 average - then hit 2 more against Texas in the playoffs. Joe Buck gushingly compared him to Roy Hobbs in The Natural. Then came the market correction. In the following years, Shane hit 8, then 9, then 10. He kept getting hurt, and he partied too much. Over seven years, he hit 59 HRs, batted .262. He never got a website, but he'll always be remembered for one September.
In 2011 (at age 21), Jesus Montero ascendeth unto NYC, following four years of nonstop hype. Jesus hit 4 HRs in 61 at bats, batting .328. They called him the savior, then traded him for Michael "Pine Tar" Pineda. In his first year in Seattle, Jesus hit 15 HRs and batted .260 - not terrible numbers, just not up to expectations. Next spring, Jesus showed up looking like a gerbil ball, 30 pounds overweight. He was demoted. During a minor league game, a Mariner scout - in an oft-told show of disrespect - sent him an ice cream sandwich. He's now in Toronto's system - still only 26 - with 11 HRs and a .321 average. He's not the next A-Rod, but he could be the next Steve Pearce.
Finally, we have Bird - the latest drug-replacement fantasy of John and Suzyn. Last year (age 22), he hit 11 HRs in 46 games. Then he went under the knife. To make up for lost time, they expect him to play in the Arizona Fall League, which he tore apart two years ago. He's certainly young enough to recover. But we should take nothing for granted.
And now, of course, Sanchez. He is 23. He is crushing the ball and throwing out runners. He has matured as a player, and he could finish the season among the Yankee HR leaders. (The current is still Beltran, with 22.) Damn, this guy sure looks like the real deal.
If something happens to him, if Sanchez turns into another disappointment, I'm calling out the juju gods. I'll be a curse, and we'll have to get on it. As Bojack Horseman once said, "Fool me twice, shame on me. Teach a man to fool me, and he'll fool me for the rest of my life." I'm not sure it applies, but I'm going with it. We need to protect Mr. Superlative.