Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Is it a slump or a market correction?

Last night, the official 2017 Moment of Shit - the one we've long dreaded - finally arrived: 

Aaron Judge's batting average dipped below .300. 

It came with a pop up. Lately, Judge has been hitting them in bunches. The YESsirs assure us it's a common slump - he'll pull out, he'll heat-up, not worried, he's taking pitches, he's getting good wood, he's squaring the bat, he's bearing down, he's acting presidential, yattayatta... But that beautiful, magnificent June - back when Judge was chasing the triple fucking crown! - has turned into dog-day, melted Popsicle August, and if you look closely, a few leaves show tinges of yellow. For three wondrous months, we flew above the clouds. We enjoyed a ringside seat to a Ruthian performance - 30 HRs and .340. The hell with Trout and Harper; we had the lodestone, the lock for Cooperstown, the best damn player in baseball.

He still could be. His numbers still look fearsome. But the pop-ups keep coming. They used to be doubles. Over his three year minor league career, Judge batted .278. If his final 2017 average ends up there, I'll take it. Because the truth is, we still don't know if we're watching a slump or a market correction. Did MLB pitchers find his Achilles heel? If so, can he re-adjust?

In that vein, Judge is following Gary Sanchez, who last year put up MVP numbers that simply could not be sustained. Sanchez now looks like a .250 hitter with 30-HR capabilities, and a few defensive quirks behind the plate. That's still all-star material. Again, I'll take it. But it's not Johnny Bench. 

One reason why teams usually take two or three years to rebuild is that young players must find their talent ceilings. They need time. Our emerging nucleus - Judge, Sanchez, Severino, Gregorius, Hicks - took several seasons to evolve. With the exception of Sanchez, who burst out like a lion, the others pretty much stank at first. Remember Didi's mental errors? Severino's horror show? Hicks was awful, and Judge struck out 40 percent of the time. That's not to mention the continuing failures of Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott... To develop a young core, a franchise needs to be committed to youth over several seasons. 

Right now, we're seeing it with Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade. Frazier's average is plummeting by six or seven points per at bat. Last night, he left two game-changing runs on third. Wade is barely hitting his weight. Yet both need to play. Their futures are too bright to be pissed away in Scranton, a la Refsnyder, or traded for nothing, a la Ben Gamel. They need time. An August pennant race is a bad time to be grinding on them. 

Next year, presumably, we will unveil infielders Miguel Andujar (.330 at Scranton) and Glyber Torres (.309), and maybe OFs Jake Cave (.376) and Billy McKinney (.343), who have re-established themselves. (Obviously, way too many outfielders.) They'll all need half a season to get acclimated. Same with pitchers Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams. They'll need innings. If the Yankees were out of the 2017 race, this could have provided that adjustment period. 

Don't get me wrong: The 2017 Yankees are going for broke and - hell, yeah! - they should be in the mix. But the kids need to play. I guess I'm especially wondering if Todd Frazier - .207 - is going to play the rest of the way, while Andujar rots in coal country. Balancing a long term Yankee plan with the immediate pennant race remains the biggest challenge facing this franchise. I just hope we don't lose sight of it. Because you know what? Even with a pop-up, Judge DOES look presidential.


Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

You observations are 100% correct. What's missing, tho: The Red Sox suck even more than we do. Maybe there's still a chance to win the division???

One perspective: The season (offensively, at least) will come down to what the NYYs do when Hicks comes back. If that brilliant genius Cashmonkey has figured out how to make Ellsbury disappear, the team might be OK.

However, if Ells remains with the team through year's end, it may become hard to sustain optimism.

[have I posed this too many times? After reading a number of Internet posts on Cashmonkey's brilliance in the past few days, I have come to wonder if the writers/bloggers have forgotten who signed Ells, who chose Headley over Solarte, how we ended up with TWO $20-million-a-year pitchers who can't hold the other teams down, etc.

Apparently, Cashmonkey was out to lunch when these things happened? If he solves the Ellsbury problem in 2017, I will initiate worship in his church....

Parson Tom said...

the Judge situation is disheartening because it seems so clear what he's doing or, more accurately, what he's not doing. Early in the year, he was stepping into pitches and driving them back where they came from. Pitch me outside? Fine, I'll just send this laser back over the mound and make fear for your life or out to the right field bleachers. Instead, he's trying to crank everything to left. Don't the Yankees have a phalanx of coaches to work with this guy? Should not be hard to fix -- unless his success this spring was entirely a mirage.

KSD said...

I never expected Judge to be a .300 hitter. did anyone here expect that? I'll be happy with .275 and 50 taters. All I want is a slightly turbo charged Frank Howard!

Ken of Brooklyn said...

@Joe Formerly Of, Ken Currently Of wholeheartedly approves your message!

JM said...

And this is exactly why giving away prospects to shore up the rotation was not a good idea.

By the way, did you see that catch Austin Jackson made last night? Sure glad we got rid of him, although I don't remember who we got in return.

These guys aren't ready. They aren't going to win it all this year. I know the rotation is a boat on the sea with gaping holes in the hull, so maybe Garcia. But Gray, probably not. We didn't have the patience--as usual--to wait for our own prospects to develop, so now we've sentenced how many pitchers to long stretches in the minors or to becoming trade bait? Hard to say. Meanwhile, we're slowly but surely dealing away the position prospects.

This organization never changes. "Win now" is all they know.

Alphonso said...

What Tom said is what I would say.

Anonymous said...



joe de pastry said...

Second place===Cashman sucks.
Never should have gotten rid of Nunez.
We all knew he'd become the new Mike Lowell.

Parson Tom said...

We got the Grandy Man for Austin Jackson, I think.

... and another thing about the "big winners" at the trade deadline: Just as everyone falls all over themselves declaring that the most active acquiring team is a huge winner and ready to start printing World Series tickets, that team frequently goes into a slump. There have been a few notable exceptions:
CC in Milwaukee
the legendary Doyle Alexander run for the Tigers
David Justice with the (98?) Yankees

But more often than not, the new guy on the newly configured team falls flat ... at least that's the way it seems to me as I listen to another game where each Yankee comes to the plate carrying an overcooked noodle instead of a bat.l

Leinstery said...

These guys suck. How many times have they had a runner at third with no outs and failed to bring it home? 20 times this week maybe. Yep just swing away at the first pitch every at bat. Make every jackass with an era over 5.5 look like a cy young candidate. God damn I hate these mother fuckers.

Anonymous said...

why the hell did the yankees get TODD FKING FRAZIER?
1. because he's from jersey
2. because he likes Sinatra
3. because he was a NJ little league world series player
4, because he is batting a stiff 200


WHAT THE HELL!!!!!!!!!"??????

Rufus T. Firefly said...

John M,

We got Granderson for Jackson and Phil Coke.

Detroit got Sherzer from Arizona. Arizona got Ian Kennedy from the Yankess.

HoraceClarke66 said...

While a fine player, I never thought A-Jax developed enough power to go with all his strikeouts. Granderson gave us a couple pretty good years and one terrific season, and came up clutch sometimes in the postseason. I don't think that deal should be a big regret.

The young guys are slumping...because young guys will. Yeah, maybe they're coming back to their "real" levels...or maybe they're just working things out. I still have hopes they can be great.

But what makes no sense? Trading fine prospects for a rent-a-pitcher like Garcia because this is our chance to "win now," then insisting on playing a bunch of old, failing players—Ellsbury, Holliday, T. Frazier, we're looking at you—because they have big contracts.

This is always Cashman's big failing. He can never stick to a clear goal, and carry it out.

If we're going for it, get the deadwood off the field. If we're not, get the deadwood off the field, and let's play ALL the kids.

I believe the rationale behind getting the King of Toms River was to keep him out of the clutches of the Red Sox. So, they responded by promoting a new phenom, and acquiring Nunez. This strikes me as effective as the time that Cashman wouldn't trade Kyle Farnsworth to Detroit because he didn't want to face him in the playoffs.

Oh, and I think Justice came over in 2000.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

The way the Yankees are playing, I'm now hoping for a two month rain delay,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Nickname Damur said...

Day-um. This is some top-grade vitriol.

Nickname Damur said...

So much for the shutout. Three Yankee first-inning errors, 2-0 Tribe.

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