Friday, March 16, 2018

Searching for meaning in Tyler Austin's home runs.

Yesterday, Tyler Austin homered again, meaninglessly.

His fourth pointless HR this spring.

In all of 2018 spring training, only five players have hit more homers, and 26 others also have four. Of that group, only one has fewer at bats than Austin. (Our old friend the Grandyman, chasing a final season in LA, also has four HRs in the same number of at bats: 25.) One of Austin's most meaningless HRs won an exhibition game in the ninth. That's one hell of an irrelevant event!

With Tyler Austin, the veteran Yankee prospect, the emptiness of spring training home runs should be magnified by the number of days in March. Not only do the games not matter, but unless some Yankee soon tweaks a buttery gonad, everything Austin has done this spring will be loaded into a cannon and fired off into the eternal, ether-laced void, which Nietzsche called "the "Abyss" and which the rest of us know of as "Scranton."

Or maybe it'll be Seattle.

When the Yankees signed Neil Walker this week, part of the reasoning went that the cagey switch-hitting vet can also play first base, in case of emergency. Before two red sunsets had dropped into the Gulf Coast, Adam Lind - the other cagey first-base backup to Greg Bird - was released. That left Tyler Austin to wait for his bus ticket to Pennsylvania. He might have accepted this reality by striking out or sulking in some fast-food restaurant men's room. Instead, he hit his fourth HR in 25 at bats. He's hitting .240 with an on-base percentage of .367. But, of course, it's meaningless-times-March.

Austin is now 26, and the official line on him will probably always be that his best chance with the Yankees came and went last spring, when Bird was hurt, and when he was also injured. Last year he hit .286 with 10 home runs over a half-season in the upper minors, mostly at Scranton.

I don't know what the Yankees can do with Austin, who has delivered far more clutch hits in his brief career than can be expected of such a fellow. But unless a gonad pops somewhere, he's probably going to be dealt in the next 10 days for whatever the Yankees can get. Generally, Cashman covets low single A pitchers with live arms, and he deals with the Pirates, Mariners and Angels, teams that return his calls. In recent years, the Mariners have done quite well with Yankee cast-offs. I would bet Cashman will call them first.

If you're an old-time Yankee prospect-hugger, you've been following Austin for eight years, back to the days when he hit .390 in the Gulf Coast League. He hurt his wrist, was virtually cleansed from the prospect lists, and then made a miraculous comeback in 2016, hitting .323 in - gulp - Scranton, the town he knows so well. If not for those injuries, who knows? But I think his Yankee run is coming to an end. If there is going to be meaning in his HRs, it looks like they will happen in another city.  


HoraceClarke66 said...

IF Frazier and Ellsbury are still ailing, and IF they send Andujar back down—which they probably will, if Drury starts at third—then all Austin has to do is beat out his fellow 1B-OF, McKinney, which he has a fighting chance to do.

And I'm tellin' ya, IF they do swap him to Seattle for lottery tix, the deal should be something like Cave, Ford, Austin AND Ellsbury, with the Mariners picking up something in the range of $5-$10 mill on Jacoby's salary.

That would not be good, but at least it would keep hope alive for Clint Frazier.

Anonymous said...

The Grandyman is with Toronto having signed a 1 year, $5 million free agent contract.