Monday, July 16, 2018

And the Marks Are Up for the Outfielders!

Okay, you asked for it, you got it!  (Blindfolds and cigarettes are available for the squeamish.)


How can you run down the big guy, still the best sports story in this town, our own Gentle Giant?

And sure, he's had a decent season, by any metric.  His fielding continues to improve, and he's got the arm to have already caught seven men on the bases (as opposed to just five all of last year), perhaps fooled by his methodical but careful way of picking up balls in the field.  He can steal a base, get a hit, draw a walk.

And yet...

There's something missing.  Don't get me wrong:  there's been no terrifying, two-month death spiral the way there was last year, after he hurt himself in the fakakta home-run derby.

He may well have done as well as he's done playing hurt again this year—that jammed thumb against the Bad News Bears who play in the next borough.  He's rarely had a chance to bat just ahead of Stanton, and he's been woefully undefended against terrible strike calls by his manager.

All that said, a season in which he is on pace for fewer homers, fewer walks, fewer runs scored, and a major-league record, 227 just not an improvement.

What's more, we have not seen Maximum Judge, not really—those amazing months of April, May, June, and September 2017, in which he ran amok, hitting for both power and average, driving balls with record velocity and for tape-measure distances.  The closest we saw was this April—but even then, it wasn't quite the same.

Who can say?  Maybe it's just the thumb.

But what does seem evident was that we didn't hitch up Mantle & Maris, or Ruth & Gehrig, as some of us—myself included!—had hoped.  For that matter, we probably have not lined up Bernie & Paulie, or even A-Rod and Sheffield, c. 2005.

I truly doubt if Judge and Stanton are ever going to carry this team, and a really canny GM might just decide that this is Maximum Value Judge, right now, and trade the big man at his highest value.

But we don't have one of those—a canny GM, I mean.

And if we don't have the M & M boys, well, maybe we have the 21st Century equivalent of, say, Frank Howard and Roy Sievers.  Two perfectly serviceable ballplayers!  All-Stars even.  But...


The other half of the equation.  Again, by no means a failure.  His fielding has even been a little better than advertised—at least, aside from plays like that flyball in Toronto the other day when he jumped up the wall about five feet to the right of where the ball came down.  Hey, he was trying!

Really, he's shown some gumption, coming back from those record-setting strikeout episodes early on.  He stayed cool, didn't let himself get run out of town as some of us—I plead guilty!—might have liked to do.

Unlike most of the lineup, he ignores the Yankees' inane hitting advice, and has learned how to hit blistering singles when the gopher ball is not an option.  And he also has not been done any favors by not going bell-to-well, back with Judge.

But's like Stanton never quite takes off.  One thing never quite leads to another, and he is on a much-reduced home-run pace from just last year, when he was playing endless, meaningless games for a team going nowhere.  Moooooore than coincidence, as they used to say?

I hope not.  I hope the best is yet to come.  Because he seems like a decent, diligent guy.  Our own Roy Sievers.

And hey, he's going to be around for awhile!  That fifty-ton anchor of a contract is going to hold us down for another the years after this one—something that Alphonso grasped but I didn't.

Let's just hope he can learn to play first base.


Remember:  like any class full of underachieving, American grade-school kids, these marks are based upon the players' presumed potential.

And Hicks...has overachieved.

This did not seem possible just a few weeks ago, when many of us—me, too!—wanted him gone.  But since then, he's been, well...clutch.

No one's confusing him with Willie Mays, or even the star he looked like he could be for a hallucinatory couple of months last season.

But—he's shown himself able to hit a home run, steal a base, make a catch, when we need it most:  " attendant lord, one that will do/ To swell a progress, start a scene or two,/ Advise the prince..." as the poet wrote.

None of which means that Clint Frazier should not get more at-bats.


What can we say?  He looked finished back in April, and then came alive again.  He always does the little things, he sometimes does the big things.

Sure, I still think his real role should be that of a(n invaluable) fourth outfielder.  Every year, the Yanks overplay him and manage to wear him out—hence his wilting second halves, another one of which is probably coming up.

But we can still appreciate him for all he's given us, here in what may be his last season as a Yankee.


His spring injury was a very bad break—for us, especially.

Is he the next Jay Buhner or the next Marcus Thames?  I don't know—but why don't we find out???  Above all, why don't we give him some time in centerfield?

Everybody says this guy has the fastest swing they've ever seen. That and an ever-rising number of renminbi will get you on the subway—but why not find out what it could mean?


Another bad break.  But he deserves better than Death By Scranton.


For "ennui."


Anonymous said...

shocking that there are no comments for a post that both quotes Hamlet, invokes the memory of the underappreciated Roy Sievers,, and utilizes ennui?
and screw Alphonso and his "grasping"

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a pass/fail guy. As Shakespeare once said, "However..." Wait that wasn't Shakespeare it was Irwin Corey. I always get the two of them confused. I will try again later.

Doug K.

Alphonso said...

What is wrong with grasping? What is grasping, anyway?

Just one comment about the ever present reference to Frazier's " the fastest swing I've ever seen." What difference does that make when the swing fails to touch the ball?

Translation; He strikes out faster than anyone?

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well, you have—ahem—hit the ball right on the screws, Alphonso. And did a baseball ever have screws?

Sandy Koufax said something similar about Alfonso Soriano, which was that he thought he had the fastest hands he had ever seen.

As we saw, Soriano was never quite able to take full advantage of this talent, as he could never bring himself to lay off an unhittable, outside pitch.

Buuuutttt....Soriano did have a pretty good career, all in all, and we were able to trade him for A-Rod who, no matter what you might think of the oaf, got us our last championship.

So yeah, I think we need to see if Frazier can hit something, given the possibilities. The amazing thing about this Yankees team is that the guys with most potential have to scrape and fight for at-bats, while complete busts such as Neil Walker get one shot after another.

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