Monday, May 16, 2016

Can Chase Headley still save his Yankee soul?

Fun Fact: Last July, Chase Headley hit .370. 

That's no false fun-fact. I'm not micro-dosing toad sweat. Headley hit three-seventy, raising his average to the respectable Jumbotron showcase of .285. For 31 days, we had a .370 masher at 3B - (albeit with lingering concerns about whether the ghost of Chuck Knoblauch was occupying his arm.) 

In August, Headley tapered off slightly - a sweet .298. In September, he tumbled into the sinkhole - .179. Then again, so did everybody on that moribund, hell-bound team. 

For the year, Headley finished at .259 and 11 HRs. Not bad, unless you're lashed to him like Ahab to the whale for four seasons. 

I don't have to say what a disaster Headley has been thus far in 2016. Why dwell upon the kidney stones? He went 23 games without an RBI. He hit his first HR Friday. At one point, he was unable to even see the Mendoza Line, and but yesterday, he had the game-winning hit. It's still May. The tulips are blooming. The summer reruns are just beginning. Let's ponder the extremes.

1. Bad. This is a Stephen Drew re-enactment. His hits merely extend the Yankees' willingness to stick with him, and - frankly - we'd be better off if he goes 0 for May. This is a brutal assessment, but Yankee fans have seen this movie many times - Vernon Wells, Alphonso Soriano, Travis Hafner - going back to the 1980s, and the days of Danny Tartabull and John Mayberry. A former slugger comes to Gotham, falls off the table, and we burn six months, refusing to accept what everybody else knows. He's done. Every time we are ready to pull the plug, he hits a home run, so we extend the leash for another month. This is a nearly a uniquely Yankee phenomena, because of our over-reaching, Steinbrennerian hubris: We somehow think giving a guy pinstripes and the wistful romance of NYC means he will become 28 again. It can happen on a great team - (see Strawberry, see Gooden, see Reuben Sierra, et al) - but is this a great team? Nope. Done.

2. Good. He's going to conquer this slump and re-install himself as a legitimate major league third baseman. It's not out of the question. Right now, it's hard to imagine Headley hitting .370 for a week, much less a month. But the Yankees have him for two more long, potentially depressing years. We have no other 3B at the upper end of the farm system. (Reports on Rob Reysnyder playing 3B in Scranton are not pleasing, even though Refsnyder hit 2 HRs last night for Scranton.) Nobody is coming to save the day. If Headley could turn it around - well - we really don't have any other option, do we? He seems to be a good person. Then again, so were Drew, Wells, Hafner, all the others. Being a good person doesn't mean hitting.

Of course, there are always shades of gray. Headley could start hitting and throwing balls into the dugout. More than perhaps any other Yankee position, we have no fallback. This is what happens when the only thirdbaseman your farm system develops in 30 years is Mike Lowell, and you trade him for a bag of donuts. Why do the Redsocks consistently develop thirdbasemen - in the last 10 years, a Youkilis, a Middlebrooks* and now a Travis Lee, while the closest we come is a scrap pile acquisition of Yangervis Solarte? What is wrong with our farm system, and will we ever address this problem?

*(Before you note that Middlebrooks turned into a disappointment, in 2013 - their championship season - he hit 17 HRs.)

1 comment:

Tom said...

Prediction for Headley this year: .238 BA, 9 HRs, 45 RBI, 500 ABs
Next year: Further deterioration

And the team goes nowhere thanks to too many holes in the lineup. I mean, how long do you suppose Starlin Castro and Carlos Beltran can maintain what they've been doing? McCann is a professional hitter, which is nice, but he's also a catcher, which leads to lots of dings and tweaks and stretches on the bench. Tex comes and goes like the wind, as in whiffing a lot.

Maybe it's not a good idea to depend on speed guys like Gardner and Ellsbury when they have already been used hard and put up wet, especially after they've turned 30? The sell-by dates on those guys were expired when the Yankees decided to invest. Signing Ellsbury was an attempt to tweak Boston, like we did with Johnny Damon, but boy, they seem to be getting the last laugh.

Kind of interested to see if Hicks pans out, but Dustin "Bill the Cat" Ack-Ackley? Let's just say that baseball has a lot of high draft picks who do little more than cough up hair balls.

To recap: We've got two guys who seem to be having good seasons: McCann and Castro. Beltran hits for some power but he doesn't get on base much. Gardy's numbers are just above average. And then you've got weaklings or gaping holes at 3rd, 1st, centerfield and rightfield if Beltran is DH.

All of which reinforces John M's comparison with the '66 Yankees. Two pretty awful teams