Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Batting third for the mightiest lineup in baseball... and hitting, gulp, .204?

The Yankee saga of Aaron Hicks began in Nov. 2015, when the Retrieval Empire dealt John Ryan Murphy - the catcher formerly known as "JR" - for the then-failed Twins ex-first-rounder. That season, it looked like a straight-up trade of clap for chlamydia. Hicks hit .217 - about 70 points above Murphy - who was exiled to the Triple A hinterlands.

In the spring of 2017, Hicks emerged from his pumpkin. In the first half of the season, he hit .290, (10 HRs) with an on-base percentage of .398 - all-star stuff! Then he strained a saddlebag and returned to his gourd. In the second half, he hit .217, finishing the year at .266 and 15 HRs, still enough for the Yankees to have "won the trade." 

Last year, though his average continued to fall (.248), Hicks hit 27 HRs, and was commonly hailed on YES as "the second best centerfielder in the AL," which was sort of a joke, because nobody tops Mike Trout. This spring, he signed a deal that extends through 2026, at $10 million per. The writers called it an omen of the new frugal Yankee ownership, signing a core player to a lifetime contract. Days later, Hicks again strained his cabbage-basket and went onto the EL (the Ellsbury List.) He stayed in Ellsbury Hot Tub Land until May 15. 

Since returning, Hicks has been nothing less than mediocre. Last night, he fanned twice and stranded six runners; he has killed more scoring opportunities than plaque psoriasis. Worse, he's done it while batting third. In a lineup brimming with All-Star candidates, he's a Thruway rest stop. Here's what happens: DJ LeMahieu singles, Luke Voit walks - and Hicks hits a grounder into the over-shift. It's been this way for a month. When the Yankees obtained Edwin Encarnacion, we figured Hicks would drop in the order. Nope. When Giancarlo Stanton returned, we figured Hicks would drop. Nope. Next week, Aaron Judge returns. Well, WTF?

Listen: This isn't a rip on Hicks. He's a gazelle in CF. And one of these days, he'll heat up. But batting third? Seriously. In a good year, Hicks shouldn't bat third in this lineup. The more he struggles, the more rallies he strangles, the more we should start to worry about his long-term value.

And then there is the saga of Mr. Cameron Maybin.

Lately, the debate over what to do with Hammerin' Cameron has neglected one possible option: CF. In fact, once Judge returns, Maybin's ticket to the waiver wire is as good as punched. There simply is no path for playing time, unless somebody gets hurt. But, but BUT... if Hicks is still fanning once every four at bats, and if his average dips below the Mendoza Line, shouldn't the Yankees consider maybe Maybin in center?

Oh, why am I bothering! Of course, this won't happen! We have an eight-year contract with Hicks; plus, his trade remains a signature victory for Zoilo Cashman's GM record. The Yankees "won the trade." (Murphy, for whatever it's worth, is now a Diamondback, hitting .177 with 4 HRs.) So it's Hicks... for now. But what if a month from now, he's still clogging the arteries... or tweaking his tummy-tuck? Wouldn't it make sense to keep Maybin... just in case?

One other weirdness: According to Scranton manager Jay Bell, the newly declawed Clint Frazier will play CF for the Riders of the Rail. Supposedly, Frazier is more comfortable in CF, though this is sort of like saying Lyme Disease is more enjoyable than Ebola. Could the Yankees actually be prepping Frazier for center, if Hicks continues to flounder? The answer, we all know, is NO. Frazier is now officially an afterthought, a player in pre-trade Purgatory. He might as well play shortstop. 

One final point: Last night, some intrepid Gammonites ripped Frazier for not reporting to Scranton immediately after his cruel demotion. What disgrace! What blaspheme! The horror, Mr. Kurtz! They compared him to Tyler Wade - who took an Uber to reach a Triple A game, and Mike Tauchman, who practically emailed himself to the Electric City. Well, both Wade and Tauchman flubbed their trials in Gotham, while Frazier had been the Yankees best hitter. If he needs to get his head right, he has 72 hours to do so. Thus, there is no outrage, no collusion, no obstruction, WITCH HUNT! In fact, the stories stick of media hissy-fit, considering Frazier's strained past relations with the scribe tribe. If he doesn't show within the required 72 hours, write your stories, asswipes. But this guy is playing baseball - he's not being vetted for the Supreme Court - and he just got screwed by a team for which he dreamed of playing. Gimme a break. And for everybody's sake, bat Hicks eighth or ninth, until his bat catches up with the league. This shouldn't be so hard. 

38 comments:

JM said...

Of course it shouldn't be so hard, which is why it will never happen. The other day, Hicks came up and I rolled my eyes, to which my wife said, "Why don't you like Hicks?" So I ran down the short form of what Duque just posted. And Hicks, I think, promptly doubled or homered, earning the missus an "Oh yeah?" But offensively he's had one good year, not great, but decidedly very good, and Brainiac locked him in for forever, his genius proven. I know Hicksy is better than .204, but jeez Louise.

As for Frazier, I kept saying, do not play him in right, he's not comfortable there, put him in left only. Never thought of center, since he doesn't seem to have the wheels. But ya never know. Mayvin is easier to picture there. He's a perfect fit. Maybe he's playing at a peak he can't maintain, since he's never been quite this good before and he's had a decade or so to show it. But damn, he's a pleasure to watch. Maybe he sees this as his last shot at the big time, and on the biggest of all stages, New York. But he sure is making his case in all caps.

Imagine an outfield of Frazier, Mayvin, and Judge, left to right. I'd be more than happy to see it. Yet we all know it will never happen. Certainly not this year, and probably never.

Cashman never admits he's wrong, and he's tripled down on Hicks. How stupid that is is something we have to painfully wait and see.

KD said...

Finally! A joke about plaque psoriasis that made me lol. Duque, you mad genius, you!

13bit said...

Two things, folks, three if you count what I'm going to say about fecal matter. And no, I'm not talking about the sewage problem at Fenway.

First, this is your bi-weekly informational post about the LIVE IN-PERSON MEETUP at Yankee Stadium on August 12th at 1PM. If you click on the "TIME TO MEET UP" link at the top of this post, you can sign up - which commits you to nothing, but gives you plenty of street cred - and then, when we are ready to buy the block of tickets, you won't be left in the cold, grasping at your crotch and howling at the moon. It should be fun and low key. And here's something else - SHOUTOUT TO THE LURKERS. We know you're there and that you don't want to post, but you are welcome, as well. Nobody is making money off of this - except Doctor Olu - so there should be a lot of love emanating from our row of seats.

Second, big thanks again to LBJ for helping with the technical end of this. I'm typing that as I try to remember the rest of my diatribe. Damn it. Too much weed in the 70s. Let me see - "sign up now..." "you have two more weeks..." "Lurkers are welcome..." Maybe I combined points 1 and 2 in the first graf. Okay on to 3.

Third, and this is personal, but the pup is doing better. He came down with a touch of the old Giardia - the "bloody flux" as we called in back in the trenches. Such is the life of a small dog who likes to lick dirt in Greenwich Village. He is on the mend, thanks to the miracles of Panacur and Flagyl and his wise old vet. I'm trying to wash my hands more than usual these days and am refraining from making out with the little dude until he is done with his course of treatment. I'm sure that our esteemed Winnie, aka: Madame Warblista, could add some sanitary precautions, but she may be too busy saving fellow humans. Anyway, all is well and we are looking forward to a sunny, non-diarrhea-filled August 12th.

I love you all.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Well said, Duque.

You know, for someone the Yankees tout as having "a great batting eye" he strikes out an awful lot. Look, he's really just an average hitter who hits more homers than he would elsewhere because he mainly hits left-handed at Yankee Stadium. Yes, he is an above average outfielder with good speed. I have no problem with his defense. But at age 29 the chances of him being a consistent .275 hitter are nil. Maybe they realize blocking center field was a mistake and trade Hicks to a team looking to lock up an outfielder for a good starting pitcher. Keep Maybin through the 2020 season and then give Florial a shot.

KD said...

Is suspect LBJ’s outrageously competent and talented gf had something to do with those amazing graphics.

Carl J. Weitz said...

13B.....My two Yellow Labs know the pain of Giardia as well. Easy to get from the grass and even easier to get if other dogs drink from your pups water bowl at the dog park. Come to think of it, I'm due to drop off their stool samples at the vet shortly. The fun part of owning a dog!

13bit said...

He came north from Texas originally loaded, like Noah's Ark, with a variety of parasites. He's a hearty little guy, but those micro-organisms can make life nasty at times. He is doing better, though.

Carl J. Weitz said...

My dogs are rescues as well. From Bumfuck, GA. 90% of the dogs at my local dog park are rescues. Probably 98% are from the south. Not to broadbrush completely but animal life isn't liked all that much down there. And then there is just the ignorance.

Ed Davies said...

"Not to broadbrush completely but animal life isn't liked all that much down there. And then there is just the ignorance."

WTF?

HoraceClarke66 said...

Amen, Duque!

This sort of obduracy drives me crazy about Ma Boone. He acts as if people like Hicks have to be treated as a superstar when they return, as if they were Mantle or DiMaggio, and not batting them in their familiar 3 or 4 spot will be taken as an insult.

Same thing last night with Stanton, whom he insisted on batting fifth.

Speaking of Mantle and DiMaggio, Hicks is a perfectly serviceable ballplayer who misses way too much time and will never be more than an acceptable hitter. Signing him up through 2026 was an absurd waste of money by an organization that, everyday, makes dumb decisions because it supposedly wants to save money.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Incidentally, judging from Cashman's triumphant comments in the press today, he is very definitely looking to make a deal for a pitcher. Heaven help us all. I just hope he doesn't throw Frazier, Maybin, AND Estrada into the pile.

The "solution" to the Yankees' OF crowd is simple. The team does NOT need to carry guys like Surrenderer and Luis "Cease and Desist" Cessa indefinitely.

Pitchers who fail continually should be sent down or dealt. There's no real need to carry 13 pitchers, period. Most likely, there's no real need to carry more than 11.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And glad to hear about the pup, 13bit!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, that's the way I like to start a ballgame.

And YES, the General is what I call a CLUTCH HITTER.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


KD said...

I suspect LBJ’s outrageously competent and talented gf had something to do with those amazing graphics.


Actually, my outrageously competent and talented gf moved out about 18 months ago after 4 years of living together. I'll tell you more about it over a beer on the 12th.

During our time together, she introduced me to a few tools and techniques that reinforced some basic graphic design concepts that I knew dimly about. I'll tell you about them over a beer on the 12th.

Believe it or not, that website was done 100% by me on Sunday afternoon in about 2 hours. The skills she imparted remind me of the ones I absorbed on my very first W-2 paycheck job as a carpenter's helper. I was 17 and I was working for a true master who was in his 60's and semi-retired at the time. Like my "outrageously competent and talented gf", I learned a lifetime's worth of valuable insights when it comes to carpentry -- both tools and knowledge. I'll tell you about it all over a beer on the 12th.

The tools I used to create the IIH Meetup site make whoever uses them outrageously productive, even if the user's base level of competence is pedestrian at best. I'll elaborate further over a beer on the 12th.

As you might have noticed, there are some encoded messages in all the gibberish I wrote above. If you read the last sentence in each paragraph slowly and carefully, my subtle message should come into focus.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
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.
.

So: Are you going?

Anonymous said...

Stanton appears in one game after missing nearly half the season and then needs to rest again? Anyone smell a big fat rat here?

JM said...

They did that with Didi, too. That's what they do, ease guys back in a bit.

Anonymous said...

Ease guys back? He had a ten-day stint in the minors? How easy does it have to be? Why don't they put a hot tub in the on-deck circle?

HoraceClarke66 said...

This would be the moment to pull CC, before the game goes from 6-1 to 6-3 or 6-4.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And...he got out of it. Good for him. But there's no point in carrying 9 relief pitchers if you're not going to use them aggressively...

HoraceClarke66 said...

By the by, nice win for the Twins last night, in a wild, 17-inning game that had a Boston win stamped all over it. But Slapsie Maxie Kepler hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 13th, then a walk-off single in the 17th. And old friend Zack Littell pitched 2 shutout innings for the win!

Littell has been generally bombed this year for the Twins. Jake Cave, who played center last night, has not been doing much either.

But the weirdest thing for me was seeing the Twins, playing as well as they are, unable to draw as many as 26,000 in either of the two games against the Carmine Hose so far. I fear baseball is really in trouble.

JM said...

This isn't just a sweep. It's a public humiliation.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Don't speak too soon. "Cease and Desist" is up in the bullpen.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I'm good with an eleven run lead.

...for now.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Off topic, but did anyone notice the last time we played the Pilots, Suzyn kept referring to "Eddie"? It was almost like she was his Auntie. Or maybe Suzyn was getting 'special' interviews with him.

It's almost like Suzyn has an 'in' with management. Have to wonder if she helped in the Eddie acquisition.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I got it!

I got it!

I got it!

I got it!

I got it!

I got it!

Have Stanton pitch!

Worst scenario, a 1-2-3 inning.

Joe of AZ said...

I hope Stanton was watching that Encarnacion at bat where he shortened up and hit a run scoring single.... That's what you do with two strikes ....not k on sliders into the stands

JM said...

We destroyed them. So much so that they meekly folded against Not a Holder and Cessa, of all people. 3.5 is ours.

KD said...

LBJ! Sorry to hear this. I had her pegged all wrong. We’ll have to share a beer some other time. Maybe this meetup can become an annual thing? May I suggest Old Timers’ Day? (It’s so obvious...)

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Competent and talented does not necessarily mean sane. Not implying anything, but it could be discussed over a beer.

Old timer's day would be appropriate, but may be difficult to obtain tickets.

With enough warning, I'll go whenever you huckleberries decide is a good day.

ranger_lp said...

@LBJ...that sort of reminds me of the 12 Days of Christmas by the McKenzie Brothers. But I get it.
@13bit...My GSD had that 10 years ago as a pup. I can do a AMA about Organic Apple Cider Vinegar if you want...it might help your pup also.

ranger_lp said...

Fun Fact...I've done websites also.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


@Ranger_LP ... you need to be introduced to wix.com which is what I used. I've never been more productive in creating a website PLUS the tool automatically causes the resulting content to display correctly on a desktop or a phone. As someone who's paid to get that done, that feature all by itself is unbelievable.

There are reasons/cases where it's inappropriate -- I wouldn't use it for business -- but those are best discussed over beer.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


@KD:

LBJ! Sorry to hear this. I had her pegged all wrong.

On the contrary, maybe you had ME pegged all wrong...we need to drink beer together to get to the bottom of it.

TheWinWarblist said...

13bit, as far as the puppy, use common sense and universal precautions. And certainly no unprotected anal penetrations or fecal-oral contact. Those would be bad.

TheWinWarblist said...

Our second puppy is a border collie mix. She came from a Texas kill shelter. Her whole litter was rescued and made it to Western Connecticut to be adopted. She threw up once that first night from eating too much and has been preposterously healthy since. Super smart and affectionate, she is a hyperactive handful.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Ed Davies, what part of my statement did you not understand?

Yes, there is a reason that in the north almost all dog rescues come from down south. If you don't believe me check, say, a dozen rescues at random on the internet in your area. You will find every one of them are mostly brought up from the south (usually on tractor trailers). Once you verify, perhaps you can rationalize why that is so. I will postulate as I please.The numbers don't lie. But I suspect it's the same reason southern/Red States voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

ranger_lp said...

@Carl...my wife fell for one of those...the story was that the place in Louisiana bred labs as gun dogs. Those who didn't make the cut were sold on Petfinders. I can tell you the rest of that story, but that might involve an IPA of some kind.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Ranger...I'd love to hear the story...and the IPA's are on me!