Sunday, April 25, 2021

At some point, Giancarlo Stanton needs to start playing the outfield

The greatest home run hitter in history, the late Henry Aaron, played all but two of his 23 seasons in the National League, without the bean chair comfort of the DH. (He finished with the Brewers, who were then in the AL, before retiring at age 42.) When the stresses of age threatened Henry's body, he moved from LF to 1B. He was always out there, playing both ways.

Likewise, the all-time HR leader, Barry Bonds, played his entire career in the NL. In his twilight - 1999, at age 34 - he played DH in a few interleague games. When he retired in 2007, age 42, I count 38 games overall as DH. (Note: We can mock Bonds for steroids and his weather balloon noggin, but give the man his due: He played defense, all the way. Had he been a DH in the AL, he might still be playing.) 

Which brings me to Giancarlo Stanton, our full-time DH at the nubile age of 31. (Actually, he's been more or less a fulltime DH since he left Miami, at 28. Last year, he didn't play a game in the outfield.) 

As we all know - from ripping out hair - the Death Barge will cohabitate with Stanton until 2028 - if humankind is still here - when he is 38, for about $30 million per season. Okay, cue the music: IT'S A DEATH TRAP, IT'S A SUICIDE RAP, TRAMPS LIKE CASH, BLAH-BLAH-BLAH...  let's skip the primal scream... but the worst of this is how it lashes us to Stanton for most of the decade. He'll sit in the dugout while everyone else fends for himself. Soon, Luke Voit will return - but with no easy day at DH. Nope, that's Giancarlo's job! What happens when Aaron Judge inevitably strains a tenderloin and needs a half-day off? Well, nothing happens. That's Giancarlo's role, until the rivers run backward. 

Look, I get it why the Yanks made Stanton the permanent DH. He's a walking hospital ward. Also, unlike Aaron and Bonds, he's a goon in LF - a threat to nearby players and walls. But encasing him in bubbled plastic won't work. Just watch: He'll soon tear open a hickey while running to first. And having a full-time DH threatens our 2021 chances.

We desperately need LH bats. (Thank you, Hicksie and Odor, for making yesterday's blog entry - whining about the LH malaise - look bad.) One remedy: Sign a lefty DH. (Our original intent with Jay Bruce.) But with Stanton locked down in the position, we have no flexibility... for the next seven years?  

Listen: Stanton will get hurt. Bird gotta fly, fish gotta swim. It won't matter what he's doing. Something will zing, or pop, or bark, and he'll disappear for a month. You can't kill the boogie man. And you can't mollify the juju gods. They're bastards.

And here's the dirtiest little secret of all: Between now and 2028, at some point, the Yankees will conclude that having Stanton as a fulltime DH is simply not worth it. To save the team, he'll need to play OF or 1B.  (Also, they won't be able to dish him off to an NL team, if he's spent five years in the dugout.)

I don't mean to bash Giancarlo. He's not dogging it. He's a good teammate. And remember... we do not blame a player for: 

a) getting old
b) getting hurt on the job
c) having a social conscience (whether we agree with him or not
d) negotiating a good contract for his family. 

I just think the Yankees should challenge Giancarlo. Let him play the OF, now and then. It frees us to make moves. And last night notwithstanding, we still need a lefty bat.

Look, Giancarlo is not Henry Aaron. But he doesn't have to be Smokey Burgess. 


Doctor T said...

No. Sorry. Yankees already have Judge, who can play outfield and does more than hit home runs (or DP with phenomenal exit velocities). Trade him for someone who can play a position (shortstop, perhaps?). Tell Hal to eat the losses.

I'm deadly serious. Trade him. He's not an asset. He's a redundancy who adds to the one-dimensional, and easily beatable, character of the Yankee 'offense' and we already have a growing collection of players who will do their best work at DH. I'm so sick of 'three true outcomes' hitters. That's the most boring baseball I've ever seen and good for losing the playoffs every time.

Get him off the roster and replace him with someone who will put the ball in play on a regular basis, doesn't strike out 180 times a season and can field a critical position. well.

el duque said...

But if he plays the outfield, we have twice as many teams to which he might be traded.

Doctor T said...

El Duque, that's the best reason I've heard to put him in the outfield.

JM said...

In the old days at the original stadium, the monuments were in deep center, on the field. When a ball got in there, you stood up and watched because anyone with some speed could get an inside the parker.

Stanton in the OF reminds me of those monuments. If we could have 10 guys in the field playing defense, I think he'd be a fine addition. He could play backup 1B or cover the foul lines, jogging back and forth to defend against LH and RH hitters. Or maybe he could stand behind the mound and make faces to distract the hitter.

But sadly, we can't have 10 guys on defense. So he's the DH. He can always get a day off here and there to make that spot more flexible. But I can't see the Yankees spending that kind of money without playing the guy every possible day. At DH.

Carl J. Weitz said...

JM...why can't they change the rule and allow that tenth man to play on defense? It's the next logical step after instituting 7-inning games during double-headers and placing a runner on second in extra innings. They should just add that extra man and complete the change over to beer-league softball rules and be done with it. Maybe they can get really progressive and mandate that every team must have at least two females and make baseball coed. Paige Sporanic would look great in a very tight pinstripe uniform!

Anonymous said...

I was talking to a SF Giant fan yesterday and he was complaining about their offense. Apparently they have pitching. I said, Hey how would you like Stanton?

And he was all, "Would I!" and I replied "Hare lip." because that's the punch line of an old joke.


The bottom line is... if we were GMs this guy would be a Giant today and we'd have more pitching.

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

Keep your fingers crossed, as soon as Stanton has a good week, work the phones and get him out of here before he gets hurt again. Bring back a couple of pitching prospects, or even a bag of balls. Prince Hal will never pay his salary just to get rid of him, like Texas did with Rougned Odor. In fact, since the Yankees never admit that they made a mistake, I'm sure they'll never trade Stanton.

The Hammer of God

Platoni said...

I'm not going to get my hopes up for a Stanton trade (away), because once we get Hal to cough up the dough and a dumb GM out West to go for it, big boy GianCarlo will nix the trade and we'll be left holding our foul balls. I went through too many adolescent encounters to know that does not feel good.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Sadly, I agree. There are too many reasons why Stanton won't be traded. Ever:

—It would reflect badly on Cashman's baseball acuity.

—It would cost HAL money.

—Stanton wouldn't go along with it.

We might as well say that Stanton should patrol LF with his wings, flying above all the action.

HoraceClarke66 said...

But hey, a Smoky Burgess reference!

And I love that joke, Doug K.!

Kevin said...

Funny thing. Stanton has a much better record of playing than Hicksie. My hunch is that Stanton NEEDS to get out there and run around and stay loose. He's not THAT bad of a fielder, and he's, uh, hamstringing the team as a DH only player (sorry, couldn't help it).

EDB said...

If Tissue Mon plays the outfield, he will get injured and spend the rest of the season hanging out with Jacoby Ellsbury.

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