THE WRONG EARTH, written by Mustang and published by El Duque, is out now!

Friday, June 1, 2018

It's a free country, so let's talk blasphemy

Now and then, I feel like running up to Mount Kilauea, singing the old Kellogg's Puffa Puffa Rice jingle, and pissing gasoline onto the lava flow. You know, talkin' some Yankee blaspheme and startin' a fight. So, here goes...

1. Austin Romine should be the Yankees' starting catcher.

Frankly, it's a no-brainer. Tell me one phase of the game - aside from HRs, (of which we have plenty) - that Gary Sanchez is superior. Let's table the enormous batting average disparity (Romine's .358 to Gary's .211) as a small sample size. Romine is better defensively, better at handling pitchers, and better in the clutch. Meanwhile, let's say it: Gary has failed to take that next step to defensive excellence; if anything, he's regressing. 

Sanchez is tied for the MLB lead in passed balls, with eight. (He's up there with the great Omar Narvaez of the White Sox.) At this rate, he will top last year's total (16) which was also tied for the lead. As The Master says, "GARY IS SCARY." We've got to stop seeing him as the Great Yankee Salvation of 2016, the summer when Cashman finally went with youth. In many respects, he's just another rookie who broke-out super hot, cooled off, and then never learned the art of adjustment. In recent weeks, he has become a strikeout machine who flails at pitches out of the zone. His big hit against the Astros - a nubber through the open right side - was hailed as a sign he will smarten up against the over-shift. On his next at bat, he was back to pulling a grounder into the teeth of the defense. So much for that. 

Romine, at 29, does everything the Yankees ask. It spoke volumes in April when manager Aaron Boone refused to allow Romine to become Sonny Gray's personal catcher. He didn't want to launch a controversy. Well, one is coming. 

I'm not saying the Yankees should trade Sanchez, (though in such blockbusters, the devils are always in the details, right?) I think we should reduce expectations about his future Hall of Fame credentials, drop him in the batting order, replace or platoon him at DH far more often, and dramatically increase Romine's playing time. Let it happen slowly. By September, Romine should be our number one catcher. And if we find ourselves playing a one-game season, here's a revolutionary idea: let's go with the catcher who catches.

2. We need to go easier on Aaron Hicks.

When you look at the great baseball teams of eternity, a common thread emerges: The CF can sure cover ground. It doesn't matter if he hits. The fucking guy covers ground. You need a Paul Blair, a Cesar Cedeno, a fleet glove who roams the horizons and catches everything he sees. The defensive CF. It's a must. 

That's what Hicks is, and we should stop thinking of him as the power hitter who briefly emerged in 2017. View him as a light-hitting, defense-oriented CF, and he's not half-bad.

We're still judging him by 1) the fact that he's a former first-round pick, 2) he looks big coming off the bus, and 3) that apparent breakout last spring, when he was the Yankees' best player. Forget the shoulders. Look at his speed - he's tied with Gardy for the team lead in stolen bases, with five - and you see a relatively light-hitting, defensive CF. He can bat eighth or ninth. And that's all we need.

One more thing before you carp: We have nobody to replace Hicks. The notion that Gardy will move to CF and save the day? That works for a weekend. He'll never last a month. Clint Frazier? Dear god, get real. He'll run into Judge, and they'll both be lost for the season. Our young CF option was Dustin Fowler - aka Moonlight Graham - whom we traded to Oakland for Sonny. The only other viable possibility is Jacoby Ellsbury, but this is blasphemy, not comedy. 

So lay off Hicks, and start viewing him as the Blue Jays do Kevin Pillar, or Atlanta does Ender Inciarte: A solid glove at a crucial position.

There, anybody wanna argue? Or do I need to go to the volcano and claim that Cashman is actually performing brilliantly? Nu-i, nu-i... 


KD said...

since we are now so Stats Happy around here, I must point out that Sanchez has a higher WAR for 2018 that Romine.

I've been converted...

Local Bargain Jerk said...

Pissing gasoline opens the mind to new ways of thinking.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, we did make Romine our starting catcher. This might free up Sanchez to be traded for, say, a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. The only fly in this petroleum-based ointment would be answering the question: Who would be promoted to serve as our backup catcher?

     Kyle Higashioka? (buzzer noise)

     Wilkin Castillo? (bigger buzzer noise)

     Chace Numata? (buzzer noise)

     Francisco Diaz? (buzzer noise)

     Jorge Saez? (buzzer noise)

Maybe we can trade Sanchez to the Pirates for Ivan Nova and Francisco Cervelli? (buzzer noise)

So much for new ways of thinking ... for now.

KD said...

Nova, no. But Cervelli I'd welcome back with open arms. (Check out his 2018 WAR. Hubba-Hubba!!)

Carl Weitz said...

Duque....Great voice over by Johnny "Match Game" Olsen and cameo at the end by Charles Nelson Reilly in the Puffa Puffa commercial! That's what I call juju synchronicity.

John M said...

New kind-a breakfast cereal. Yet another ad jingle that has been bouncing inside my cranium for over 50 years for no purpose other than crowding out more worthwhile memories. Still cracks me up, though.

Hicks, schmicks. This isn't an argument. Yes, he's good defensively and not offensively. Terrific. That means a guy who's better offensively but a big less good defensively makes just as much sense. And Gardner wouldn't last only a weekend. He's not that old, dammit. And if Frazier is brought up to the bigs where he should be, let him fill in when Gardy needs a rest.

Hicks is a clog in the outfield we can do without, defense be darned. The number of times his weak hitting hurts us is greater than the number of times his supposedly great defense helps us. The extra smidge of defense JUST DOESN'T MATTER. Sorry for shouting.

Romine is a different story because at this stage he has the defensive AND the offensive edge. And I hate to say that, because Sanchez has earned more of a chance, I think. Yet holy Toledo (or Scranton), he really is stepping in it this year, at least so far. Giving Romine more playing time might actually push Gary into getting his act together. Competition does that to some guys.

Hicks is a pinch runner and late-inning defensive replacement. Period. Better yet, he's gone to make room for Red. I would digga-digga that.

Anonymous said...

Couple of things...

Very interesting take on Hicks who, as I've said before, is this year's Starlin Castro for me. Every time he gets up my finger drifts to the FF button. (I rarely watch live). Sadly Stanton causes the same impulse. But what if you're right? What if he's just a light hitting good glove center fielder? I'm good with it with one caveat. BAT HIM NINTH! Not first. Not sixth. Ninth.

Sanchez. I used to really like Sanchez. Maybe I was fooled. Maybe he's just a really talented guy who is done in by a lack of focus. Too bad Adderall is a banned substance. I suspect that may be the issue. I lost a lot of respect for him when he sucker punched that guy as well.

Not really convinced about Romine though. Still feels like an aberration. Does benching Sanchez serve as a wake up call. Or does he sulk? Because long term Sanchez has more upside. Maybe they could put an electric shock device somewhere in his uniform (you can pick where) and every time he has a passed ball Boone hits the button. That will improve his focus. Are they allowed to drink Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy drink during the games? "Four more innings. Help!"

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

Let's get rid of cASSman before he does anymore damage.......

HoraceClarke66 said...

Wonderfully provocative, Duque!

Much as I was calling for Sanza to be dealt to the Mets for Legroom or Cinderella (deGrom or Syndergaard) just a few weeks ago, I have to say he's worth sticking with.

First, is Sanchez REALLY a worse defensive catcher? Without having checked the stats recently, I seem to recall that when Sanchez is catching, Yankees pitchers have much better results. Now that might be, again, a small sample size—or a Sonny sample size—but I believe it goes back through 2017.

Sanchez also has a better arm, looks great to me at framing pitches and, against the Astronauts the other night, displayed the sort of on-field intelligence and situational awareness that, well, the Cleveland Caveliers only wish that J.R. Smith could be injected with.

There's also this: if Greg Bird does prove to be his generation's Nick Johnson, we may need Sanchez to play first.

As to Hicks, I've always liked him, and I hear what your saying. But why not give Clint Frazier a solid shot there? No, he won't be quite as good in the field, but he might be all right, and it may well be a way of keeping his bat.

Keep the provocations coming!

Joe F said...

The thing about Sanchez that's maddening, when you watch the game is YOU KNOW and HE KNOWS he can mop the floor with any of these pitchers AT ANY moment HE Decides like when he just decided to go the oppo way for rbi's and than back to effortless pop ups and pulled grounders...BUTBi guess that requires effort/focus. Two things he doesn't seem to be committed to all the time

Binders sure looks right for calling him out last year.

Anonymous said...

Gary Sanchez 2018 dWAR: .01

Austin Romine 2018 dWAR: .04

In the far larger and more meaningful sample of 2017:

Gary Sanchez dWAR: 0.4

Austin Romine dWAR: -0.1 (that's a MINUS sign)

Romine has a shitty arm--he has one of the lowest percentage of the league in throwing runners out. His pitch calling and framing is no better than Sanchez's overall.

And you don't REALLY think that Romine is a better hitter than Sanchez, do you?

And your excuse for not benching the offensive dud Hicks--as in CAREER offensive dud--is that Frazier's going to collide with Judge?

I take it that this is one of your humor pieces, right?

TheWinWarblist said...

I think nothing of the sort. I'm well aware of Romine's history. I'm saying that he's playing so well this year that he deserves more playing time. Until he reverts to his old self.

Anonymous said...

That's odd--my comment was clearly addressed to duque, the author of the featured comment, but answered--in the first person--by WinWarblist, but as though by duque himself. There were no previous comments to or from Warblist in this thread, yet Warblist speaks of what "I'm saying," even though the issue is what duque is saying. Very strange indeed. Is WinWarblist an alternative nom de plume used by duque?