Friday, December 11, 2020

The sad case of Kyle Holder, the Yankee shortstop who always came up short

Depending on which voices rule my head, yesterday's Rule 5 draft was either a full-blown Yankee disaster...  or a tall, steaming mound of nothingness.  

In case you missed it, the Cashman Consortium lost three prospects - RH pitchers Garret Whitlock and Trevor Stephan, and SS Kyle Holder, a former sandwich-round pick.  (Whitlock, it should be noted, was snagged by Boston... grrr...)

But but BUT... under the mysterious Rule 5 - a casserole of legalese that rivals the liability disclaimers on your phone - each selected player must stay on his new team's 25-man roster all season, or he comes home, wagging his tail behind him. Most Rule Fivers don't stick. Remember Ivan Nova? He came back. Remember Nestor (Ocasio) Cortez? He came back. We don't say "Goodbye," merely "Steal some silverware on the way back." (Also, it's a mark of honor for the Yankee system, in that other teams are raiding us.) 

But today, I mourn the loss of Holder - this winter's second Holder (after Jonathan, now a free agent) to be unheld.

We picked Holder in the the 2015 draft, when he was reputed to be then nation's premier defensive SS. 

"Holder is about as elite a defender as we've seen come through the college ranks," Yankee scouting director, Damon Oppenheimer said. "He's got a tremendous glove...

"The ball just sticks in his glove. There's not a lot of guys that you say, 'I want to get there early just to watch this guy take ground balls.' But that's what I did with him."

Oppenheimer compared Holder's defense to 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel. 

"This guy can do some of the things that Omar did between his legs and things. I don't know. It was really, really fun to watch."

One aspect of bullshit: When it is particularly savory, folks have a way of remembering the taste. For five years, Yank fans have waited for our Omar. Now, he's gone.

Elephant-in-the-room time: Holder's bat was always a dice roll. Over five years, he hit .264 with 17 HR and 26 SB. Not much... unless his glove was the Second Coming of Omar. 

In his last full season, 2019, at Trenton, Holder hit .265 with 9 HRs. Not bad, really. Especially if he is the Second Coming of Omar. 

(I should note that last year, the Yankees left Holder unprotected in the Rule 5, and nobody picked him. So he spends a year slogging around Scranton, and now he gets taken? Go figure.) 

I've monitored Holder for five years. He suffers from Aaron Hicks Disease: Whenever his bat heated up, he'd get hurt. (He missed most of 2018.)

But if this guy is truly an elite defensive SS, why did the Yankees sit on him? At various moments, we've tried Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, Adeiny Hechavarria, Troy Tulowitzki, Thairo Estrada and - last season - the inexplicable Jordy "the wrong Murcer" Mercer. Why not the Second Coming of Omar? 

I get it that savvied scouts - baseball men! Marlboro men!- along with nerdy, nose-picking wonks have studied Holder and said no. Just so it's said: I do not think I know more than the experts.

But last year, the Yankees tried Gleyber Torres at SS, and - well - I'm not sure it worked. Yesterday, Brian Cashman suggested that Gleyber didn't show up in good enough shape - (he blamed the pandemic) - which is a hell of thing for a GM to say about a player. Cashman also suggested the Yanks might not re-sign DJ LeMahieu. If so, Gleyber probably returns to 2B, leaving a big, gaping hole at SS. 

A perfect opening for the Second Coming of Omar, am I right? 

Well, the Yanks often seem to be glove-blind. The greatest example: Gary Sanchez. For five years, they've ignored his defense in favor of his exit velocity. And now they are said to be considering Kyle Schwarber? Yikes! 

So, Kyle Holder, now 26, is a Philadelphia Phillie. Who cares what he hits? What if he turns out to be a Gold Glove? Think the Yanks will call Jordy Mercer?


cabish47 said...

Earl Weaver said he wanted players who were good at one thing or something like that. Mark Belanger played 18 years as a no-hit (career slash .228/.300/.280) shortstop for the great late sixties and seventies Orioles. Good thing for him he could field. He was an eight-time GG with a league-leading dWAR six years in a row. His dWAR is second all-time.
What a bum. He could never play on our Yankees.

ranger_lp said...

If the Phillies went after Kyle, then Didi is not returning there. We're looking at the don't sign LeMahieu...sign Didi and move Torres back to 2B scenario. It's cheaper.

Fuck You Hal

13bit said...

Exit velocity is meaningless unless we're talking about food poisoning.

We KNOW Sanchez at this point. He has shown us who he is for a long time.

We do NOT know baseball over at Chez Cashman. He is a moron. Hal doesn't care.

Game over.

JM said...

This is the shortstop that alll-most wasn't
Alll-most wasn't
Alll-most waaasn't
Now this is the shortstop that almost wasn't
Because of a man named Brain

(Some obscure holiday cheer for Rossano Brazzi fans.)

Alphonso said...

I know what you are saying.

I have seen so much of "world class" shortstops on other teams, and heard so much about this guy, that I was dying to see him play. Even in spring training. Just field one fucking ball. Instead, I saw him get a couple of hits...which he was supposedly unable to do.

But the Yankees were never going to give him a chance.

They just don't give chances to people who have little HR power. It is why Tyler Wade is penciled in, at best, as the 25th guy...a utility something or other.

In the end, it doesn't matter if we have Kyle Holder to watch or not.

We have Giancarlo Stanton.. For seven more years.

And if you don't mind watching will be a happy fan.

JimmyEatsHotDogs said...

Yankee fans see this dance every winter. Don't know about anyone else but I'm getting tired of the GM. You look at this lineup and roster and the blame falls on Cashman in particular with Hal blessing this freakin mess!

HoraceClarke66 said...

This seems like a bad move, particularly with chum like Luis Cessa and Nick Nelson still taking up roster spaces. Why not at least give Holder a whirl?

I am filled with dread over the thought they might not sign LeMahieu. That would be one more confirmation that we ain't going anywhere, as long as Cashman ain't going anywhere.

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