Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Too Big Not to Fail.

Best line of spring training so far comes, I think, from another site, the usually unreliable nj.com, and Randy Miller:

"Dr J could've kept the Yankees healthier."

Hey, credit where credit is due, and Miller gives a full-blast noogie to Coops & co. that is worthy of our own dear blog, writing that the Mad King would never have stood for this:

"You can almost hear Steinbrenner bellowing:  'Can anyone diagnose a (bleeping) injury around here?'"

Amen—and thanks to Miller, and Judge himself, we now have an exact date on when the big guy actually got hurt, just as we do on Severino (thanks to my expert gumshoe work, if I do say so myself).

Judge, it seems, heard a "crack" and a "pop" after diving to try, unsuccessfully, to glove a single by Albert Pujols in a meaningless game against the Angels last September 18th.

"Crack" and "pop," and all that's left is the "snap" for the full Rice Krispies treat.

Our crack medical staff could not find anything, of course, but the Yanks obviously believed that Judge was hurt, holding him out for a couple of games the rest of the way, and DHing him for several more.  Remarkably, Judge played pretty well the rest of the season, hitting .296 and running up three homers, three doubles, and a triple.

However, he then went south in the playoffs—before, idiotically, launching into full blast, off-season workout mode, to try to "play through it."  Dumb of him, and crazy dumb of our training staff.  Heads should indeed have rolled for this.

But let's face the bigger problem.

This guy—dedicated as he is, lovable as he is, as terrific a ballplayer as he is—is too big to play effectively in the major leagues.  This all-out dive for a ball that meant nothing, nothing at all, is Exhibit A-Z.

There are guys who can play like that, such as Ichiro, who often seemed to have the body of a cat out there.  But not Judge, who much more resembles those NFL linemen who are so huge and so juiced that they injure themselves just by falling down.

I am NOT saying Judge is juicing.  In fact, I would almost swear that he is NOT.  But he's too big to play the way he does—and I fear he's too much of a real ballplayer not to keep getting hurt.

Bobby Abreu was a regular whipping boy of fans and press, if you'll remember, for not throwing his body constantly into walls.  Bobby Abreu played 2,425 major-league games in a near-Hall-of-Fame career, in which he hit 288 homers, stole 400 bases, and batted .291.

Just to play in as many games as Abreu did, Judge, who is now 27, would have to play every single game the Yankees have for the next 12 1/2 years (assuming they have any, with these mega-viruses floating around).

Who would you rather have in right field?  Bobby Abreu?  Or whatever dumpster remnant or minor leaguer Cashman throws in next?

The sad, sad fact is that Aaron Judge's body is just not made for baseball at 6-7 and 282 pounds.  The guys we grew up thinking of as superheroes loom large in our imagination, but most of them were considerably smaller than this.  Mickey Mantle was 5-11, 195.  Willie Mays was 5-10, only 170.  Hammerin' Henry Aaron, 6 feet, 180, Joe, Joe DiMaggio, 6-2, 193.

Someday, when we perfect the nanobots and can fix any injury in an instant, we'll see players like Judge all over the place.  But not yet.  And it's foolish to deceive ourselves into thinking that he can ever be a full-time player.

A certain other blog we'll call SB Nation just ran a piece on how Christian Yelich has signed a 7-year contract extension for "only" $215 million, which this individual felt was a "relatively light amount." He delighted in how little, thus, we could probably get the big guy to sign for, considering that, "Judge is arguably a more complete player than Yelich..."

Yes, he is, and roses are arguably more beautiful than winter grass, but one's around just now and the other ain't.

I wanted to shove my hand through the computer screen and throttle this genius for even suggesting to Cooperstown Cashman that now would be the perfect time to ink Judge to a "cheap" long-term contract, the examples of Giancarlo Stanton and Jacoby Ellsbury notwithstanding.

Let's play Judge when we can, and thank the gods for those fleeting moments when we get to see him at his best—and they will become more and more fleeting, as the constant injuries take their toll.  But to spend huge amounts of money that could go elsewhere just to watch him do the Florida rehab thing, year after year with Giancarlo?

No, thank you.


Anonymous said...

It seems sad but true.

At the same time I wonder why football tight ends of similar size can dive or extend for balls and then get hit by a mack truck and shake it off. Is it the torque of the swing?

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Don't know, Doug K. I mean, some guys can throw their bodies around a baseball field, too, and not mind it.

But not our Judge.

One more comparison: Babe Ruth, in his prime, was 6-2 and 215 pounds. In other word, almost half-a-foot shorter and 70 pounds lighter that our Tyrannosaurus Rex.

......Since 56 said...

After my “name “was used to post comments by some cokeheads recently, I swore to avoid posting hear...preferring to read and be happy, but
this is so spot that an exception has to be made.
Judge is not the same player he was as a rookie....no more blasts over the bullpen..lots of singles, walks ( great OBP, can’t find fault there), but where is the power ? His job is to provide power and strike fear...he can’t do that right now for whatever reason....long term, I’d pass if I were in charge.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Please keep reading and posting, Since 56!

And yeah, it's very sad. There are always guys like that, who have such amazing potential but the body won't hold up.

It's particularly sad because Judge is such a mensch. He is really a terrific all-around ballplayer, plays smart, plays all-out. The spirit is willing, but...

......Since 56 said...

Yeah, IIHIIF has become one of my daily reads....as I’ve said, great posts and some really entertaining editorials....learned a lot here, so thanks for that.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Great to hear!

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

You can't compare Ruth and Judge. Ruth frequently self-lubricated with copious amounts of beer (apparently, sometimes before a game). Probably had more sex at the same point in his career than Aaron does now, altho I'm not sure how to verify that.

In other words: Babe was definitely "looser" -- in every sense of the word. If you approach anything (sports, work, love, family, etc.) in a somewhat non-loose way, you are going to hurt something (or someone).

As for the 2020 ying and yang:

a. We might not have Judge. If we're lucky, we won't see much of Stanton, tho.

b. All of us have, at times, expressed some faith in The Red Menace. If they only gave him some at-bats he'd hit like crazy. If they play him daily in the field, he'll get better at that, too. Well, 2020 might finally test if what we've thought was fantasy or something else.

c. The mysterious trade-off of Romine remains nettlesome, doesn't it? The NYYs are going into a season in which the catching staff might hit a combined .137. On the other hand, it's possible the pitching will be really, really strong. Better than we all could hope.

d. Another mixed blessing: It's possible they will play all or most of the games in front of crowds of about 23 to 47 people in 2020. On the other hand, that means we'll all be able to hear the banging of trash cans (perhaps even the buzzers in various players' shirts) -- really clearly. Of course, MLB might NOT give in to the virus (which will mean -- what? Red Sox fans in face masks? Might be an improvement).

Or, with not many showing up (or large crowds banned -- see Italy) . . . the bleeding of real money might lead them to cancel the season.

e. The team has multiples of good infielders at many positions. Lots of first basemen, esp if you included DJL. Really great potential at 3B. Only Gleyber is majorly important. So there's that (maybe).

I'm optimistic. Assuming they play out the season....

HoraceClarke66 said...

All true, Joe! Except the Yankees let Romine walk instead of trading him, right? Even stupider.

And I suspect that Ruth probably had more sex than all of us combined plus Judge. Be interesting to see what the final numbers were between The Babe and Wilt "I slept with 10,000 women" the Stilt.

Parson Tom said...

Injuries happen. Sometimes they happen to the same person over and over again. Judge is entering his third year compromised by injury after his record-setting rookie season.

That much about this commentary is true. The rest of it is opinion based on a sample of one. To say that a man can't have a long and productive baseball career just because -- simplifying the argument a bit but not a lot -- he's larger than the guys who were good when we were young seems like a long reach to me.

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