Thursday, March 7, 2019

The YBNH Halligators Breakdown—Part II, the Infield

No part of this team better exemplifies just how quickly the Hallies broke down ever since the squad rampaged through the first half of 2018.

I don't know that I've ever seen an infield quite as fortified as ours was to begin last season.  Greg Bird, The Gleyber, Sir Didi, and AnDUjar. And behind them, Tyler Austin, Neil Walker, Brandon Drury, Tyler Too, Ronald Torreyes, and, if we really needed them, Mike Ford and Ryan McBroom down on the farm.

I mean, it was ridiculous. Even the back-ups had back-ups.

And better yet, Drury and Walker got injured long enough to force the Hallies' Sawdust Trust to start both El Matador and El Conquistador. Not to wish an injury on anybody (except maybe David Price), but we all knew that if that hadn't happened The Office Boy would've forced Ma Boone to start Drury and Walker, and been licking his chops to deal Miggy and Gleyber.

Well, what a difference a year makes.  Like every other part of the team, the infield is thinner this season, even if it has not yet been "bitten by the swan."

First, let's look at the bright spots, El Matador and El Conquistador, who confounded the legions of sportswriters swearing you could not have two rookies in the same lineup and still contend. They finished 2-3 in the Rookie of the Year voting, and would have finished 1-2 if the writers hadn't decided that:

—Playing for years in Japan's big leagues shouldn't disqualify you.  If you're not a Yankee.
—Playing half-a-season as a DH and pinch-hitter shouldn't disqualify you.  If you're not a Yankee.

Well, never mind, that's so much blood under the bridge.

Andujar showed that he was the best all-around hitter on the team. He got better—MUCH better—as he went on (.919 second half OPS to .805 first half; .319-.279 BA), and also, weirdly, hit righties better than lefties, something we're going to need on the lopsided team Mr. Cashman has built us.  Both he and Ma should have been fired for criminal baseball negligence, keeping Miggy out of that last Boston game.

Unless the Sabremetricious drive him to distraction with their endless harping on his fielding, Miggy should thrive again. The prospectus for The Gleyber is a little less bright. No question, Torres had a terrific rookie year, but his hitting took a dive in the second half (.905-.733; .294-.249), and there were some spotty moments in the field.  And what DID take him so long to get down the line in that ninth inning against Boston?

What will be interesting is if The Gleyber has to play SS this season, which may or may not be a good thing.

The Troy Tulowitzski experiment is off to a better start than expected, and I'm glad to see it.  But c'mon: this was a guy who was injured even before he was injured.

Tulo has never played an entire major-league season, and only managed to get above 131 games 3 times in his career.  And even if he can stay on the field, the wages are going to call the left side of the infield the Statue Gallery, so many balls will go through.

Will we see Didi?  Sure hope so.  But as ALL-CAPS pointed out, the Yanks always lie.

As ALL-CAPS also likes to say, Bird is the potential key to making this Hallies team an unstoppable offensive force, as a left-handed power bat stuck between, say, Stanton and Judge.  But then, we've been saying that for three years now.

Back in the day, a manager such as Casey would've been intrigued at the prospect of a lefty-righty platoon at first with Bird and Luke Voit. But such an idea would probably require a little more brainpower than is available from the man who says that with shifts there is no longer any purpose to left-handed batters.

Behind that, well, there's not much.  I love Tyler Wade, we all love Tyler Wade, but that .161 BA in 124 major-league at-bats is worrisome. A couple springs ago, Wade was looking like a valuable lug nut, a Bucky Dent, maybe, or even a Tony Kubek.  Now, with the Yanks sticking him in the outfield, he seems more like a Clay Bellinger, at best.

That leaves the man who turned out to be this year's big, free-agent signing, D.J. "General Curtis" LeMahieu. The press loved this move, and what's not to love?  A batting champ in 2016, three-time Gold Glove who can play anywhere.

In reality, The General at 30 already looks like a ballplayer in swift decline. He missed 34 games last year and his OPS has dropped precipitously, from .911 to .783 to .749. Lifetime, he's a .264 hitter outside of John Denver territory, and last year he hit all of .229 when off his Rocky Mountain high.

One weird fact: LeMahieu hit with much more power on the road in 2018, smacking 11 of his 15 home runs there.  Don't know if this was by choice or not, but he looks all too much like Cashy's favorite type of ballplayer, gaining meh power as he rapidly sheds hits and walks.

The truly idiotic thing is that Cashy spent so much on this guy: $24 mill for two, a considerable chunk of the money that could have gone toward a Manny or a Bryce.

It was particularly stupid when he still had the wonderful Toe available. To not even trade Torreyes, just release him, was all too typical of the reptilian lethargy Cashman seemed to lapse into this winter.

As it was, he had already destroyed most of the Yanks' infield depth last year by dealing Tyler Austin for the barely adequate Lance Lynn, and the much-coveted Drury for a pitcher he was going to sign anyway in the off-season.  (I know, I know.  We did need SOMEBODY to pitch the rest of 2018).

What's left?  Well, me and Scotland love us some Mike Ford, but his career may have already suffered the Yankees' sadistic, "Death by Dunder Mifflin Land."  Kyle Holder is supposed to be able to field, and the Thairo is back, but who knows?

This is where the refusal to sign Manny and Bryce really kicks in.

You could put Manny on third and have Miggy learn left field, taking advantage of his powerful arm.  Or you could put him at short, at least until Didi comes back. You could have Bryce learn some first base, and overall you could have an infield/outfield full of hard-hitting, mix-and-match stars all under 30 who would make your lineup practically invincible for years and years to come.

But hey, that was your old New York Yankees.  Not your YBNH Halligators.

And don't forget:  we'll always have McBroom!








1 comment:

Anonymous said...

UNFORTUNATELY HOSS, I HAVE GIVEN UP ON THE HOPE OF GREG BIRD BEING THE PERFECT PIECE IN THE MIDDLE OF JUDGE AND STANTON.

I HAVE SEEN TOO MUCH OF HIM.

I AM AFRAID HE JUST ISN'T THAT GOOD.

I HOPE I AM DEAD WRONG.

I WANT TO BE WRONG.

IN THE MEANTIME, I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT LUKE.

HE IS SO LIKEABLE AND REALLY RAKED LAST SEASON.

LUKE SPRAYS THE BALL TO ALL FIELDS TOO, SOMETHING I AM AFRAID BIRD REALLY DOESN'T DO NEARLY AS WELL.