Sunday, April 7, 2019

It's Clint Frazier's time to shine brightly or Slade away

Last night, in the masturbatory aftermath of Clint Frazier's three-run ding - the most important hit of the season! - it occurred to me that the moment was an almost identical re-enactment of Slade Heathcott's 2015 incredible blast against Tampa, which I happened to flag yesterday. 

Hmmm. Juju? Obviously. I'm officially claiming credit.

But back to the comparison. Both shots won seemingly big games (though neither was a walk-off.) Both came from a heavily hyped former first round pick, who cut against the grain of humble, toilet-flushing Yankee prospects. The difference - we hope - is what happens next. Will Frazier become Slade II?

Who was Slade I? In 2015, Heathcott came with an almost mythic Yankee backstory. He was the troubled youth who'd battled alcoholism, homelessness and suicidal tendencies - even before escaping high school. At one point, the narrative had him pointing a 12-gauge shotgun at his dad. The bards went crazy. The Yankee hype machine made him into a thinly veiled version of Josh Hamilton, who had overcome drug addiction to become baseball's biggest slugger. (And who had crushed the Yankees in the playoffs.) In his early years, I recall Heathcott's dark past spotlighted in a lengthy, breathless Charleston Observer article, and then, the following night, he launched a huge brawl, apparently triggered by something the catcher said. 

My guess: The evil catcher said, "Yer mudder wears combat boots!" That would have set me off. Whatever the case, I was hooked on Heathcott's story, and checked him in the daily box scores for five years. It was painful. Whenever he started to hit, the poor kid ran into a wall or threw himself at a sinking liner, tearing something that wasn't supposed to be torn. In 2016, with a glut of LH hitting outfielders (Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Jake Cave, Dustin Fowler), the Yankees released him. He bumped around the White Sox and A's systems and retired last year. He is supposedly studying to fly planes. I wish him the best - with this advice: Avoid the walls. In another Yankiverse, not that far away, he played LF for us last night. Life is strange, no?

Which brings us to Frazier, aka "Red Thunder." (BTW, what a horrible name to hang on a kid; the hype machine did him no favors.)

Since coming to us in the Andrew Miller trade, and jokingly requesting Number 7, Frazier has given Yankee diehards hope for a farm-raised slugger. I'm not talking about .236 and 25 HRs, (which today gets you a $40 million contract.) I'm talking about .300 and 30 HRs, and the "legendary bat speed" that Cooperstown Cashman mentioned after making the deal, which also involved Justus Sheffield.

Like Heathcott, Frazier has splattered into walls like a sick starling, nearly bashing himself out of baseball. At this point, he's one concussion away from being sent home with a doctor's note. But last night, he saved the Yankee season... just as Heathcott's once appeared to do.

So now, let's dispense with this Mike Tauchman experiment. Let the Tauchster give Brett Gardner breathers in CF, and let's see what Frazier can do in LF. Back in the days of old Joe Girardi, the constant fan lament was that after a big day, players always seemed to get benched. Let's hope Aaron Boone plays the hot hand, and that Frazier actually has a hot hand. This is his chance. Slade Heathcott couldn't pull that trigger. Maybe this is different.

And for the sake of juju, here's Greg Bird's great HR against - of course - Andrew Miller. Let's see if it triggers something with Bird today. If so, I'm claiming credit.


Anonymous said...









JM said...
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HoraceClarke66 said...

I completely agree, ALL-CAPS.

I'm willing to give him (still) more time to get his stroke back. But what bothers me more and more about Bird is how he fails to keep his head in the game. That fielding play last night was all too typical, and could easily have cost us the contest.

This is another reason why the Yankees need a real manager, not just an extension of Brian Cashman's already mammoth ego.

JM said...

Bird can't field and can't hit. Sanchez can hit some dingers, can't hit for average, and has some issues on defense, not necessarily fatal ones. Frazier can play defense just fine, and we still don't know if he can hit over time. How can we keep trotting out the first two guys and treating Clint like a borderline minor league? By that logic, all of these guys are borderline minor Leaguers, and if you put aside Sanchez's rookie year, before the league figured him out (and he couldn't adequately adjust), Frazier even looks a little better.

I want all of these guys to figure it out and turn into reliable, productive, every day players. But imo, right now, Sanchez has power but hits .200 or less, Bird has potential power but hits .200 or less (and suddenly can't play defense very well), and Frazier...well, let's find out already.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well said, JM.

I know I keep harping on this, but yet another thing this sorry organization lacks is effective instruction. I've never seen so many guys go so far backward in my life.

Granted, probably some of it is the injuries for both Sanchez and Bird. But they also need to be more motivated than they look.

We are stuck with Sanchez for the time being, I guess, thanks to Coops the genius. But if there is no discernible improvement in production and especially effort by the end of the month, Bird ought to swap places with Mike Ford or...dare I say it?...Mc-BROOM!

HoraceClarke66 said...

And Duque, the fate of guys like Heathcott make me wonder if we really do bring up our players the right way.

Sure, you want to see guys playing all out.

But remember how much grief everyone used to give Bobby Abreu for not wanting to run into walls? The guy ended up putting in an 18-year career that was just a cut below the Hall of Fame, and made $125 million.

Think he's happier now, or Slade Heathcott?

Anonymous said...

1) Here's the thing, Bird is place holding. The pre-injury plan was to have Voit as the 1B (backed up by DJ), Bird in Scranton, and Stanton as the primary DH. The injuries to Stanton and AnDujar ended that plan and opened up Bird at first.

Bringing up Ursla (SP) creates the possibility of him being the regular 3B for the most part freeing up DJ to go back to the super utility role they got him for.

When Stanton returns Bird goes. (unless he figures it out. - Maybe his nickname should be Ostrich. Because right now he's playing with his head buried (somewhere) you fill it in.

2) Sanchez made a nice throw to second yesterday. The last thing we need is the best part of his defensive game going all Knoblauch on us.

3) Totally agree that Boone and the other coaches are too passive.

4) I think Dallas valued himself too high for the current collusion and his current age/stuff. CC will be returning next week.

5) Austria: Just hope that the green bar is a computer problem and not MLB.TV experimenting with a permanent ad bar.

6) Apparently catchers no longer hit in general. right now Sanchez is #1 in HRs 4th in RBI's and 9th in BA. and we think he sucks. The Great Realmuto (good magician name) is batting .174 Of course all of this is a short statistical sample. For example Wilson Ramos is batting .407. But the whole Johhny Bench, Thurman Munson, Yogi Berra thing appears to long gone.

Doug K.

JM said...

Obviously, Sanchez can still hit home runs. Today, even with a man on (gasp). I guess .180 with 40 homers is the new acceptably normal. It makes .250 power hitters look like HOF material.

What a strange game this has become, Doug.

JM said...

If ICS can hit home runs at this rate, he'll have a couple hundred and a hell of an average, too.

Holy Jesus Montero.

ranger_lp said...

Frazier belongs..."Downtown goes Frazier" twice.

TheWinWarblist said...

Frazier looks pretty shiny today.

Downtown goes Frazier!! Downtown goes Frazier!!