Monday, April 12, 2021

Old guys rule: Thairo Estrada disappears, Tyler Wade ships out, and we must wonder if Clint Frazier's starting role lasted nine games.

Hats off to Brett Gardner, 6-for-17 and a crisp .367 on the newborn season! Yesterday, Gardy singled and walked twice in the win over Tampa. Give the man a gold star.

Considering our troubled the heart of the order - (Giancarlo Stanton hitting .188; Aaron Hicks, .129; and Aaron Judge, .310 but facing "soreness") - the Yankees need a hot hitter in any form. 

But nine games into 2021, Clint Frazier's lock on LF - a constant theme of Camp Tampa - seems a distant memory, if not a mirage.

Frazier has started cool. He is 5-for-25, a perfect .250. And let's draw no conclusions about his playing time, or lack of it. This is the Yankees, people, not your neighborhood bake sale. Nobody gives a fuck about your cookies, if they're not selling. We all knew Frazier's moment as a starter depended on him hitting, and thus far, he hasn't.

I'm still dealing with 2020 whiplash. I think we all are. Last year, two weeks signified a whole quarter of the season. Last year, an opening slump meant a lost future contract. Last year, there were no spring phenoms, no June swoons, no dog days, no agonizing final stretch - just one fast, hard sprint to a post-season that nearly everyone made. Last year, Houston and Milwaukee both made the playoffs despite losing records. Last year was a hallucination. 

Last year, Frazier was nominated for a Gold Glove.

Of course, that was crazy. Anybody watching Frazier saw an improved defender, but hardly a Gold Glove. It's all 2020 whiplash. We're still recovering.

Which brings me back to Gardy. Over his 14-year career, Gardner has a .259 average. These days, he has surprising power and little interest in stealing bases. He remains a stalwart, a firebrand who breaks dugout roofs - the closest we have to a captain. 

But he's going to hit about .259. If Gardy's presence kills Frazier's shot at playing everyday, we will remember his twilight season with the angst of what coulda been. Frazier needs 300 at bats to prove himself. He needs a chance to heat up. He needs the opportunity that Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade never received - and never will. Yesterday, the Yankees traded Estrada for cash - (yes, Hal wanted cash; since when do the Yankees sell players for cash?) They sent Wade to the black hole of Calcutta, aka the Scranton taxi squad. (Five years ago at Scranton, he hit .310. In his Yankee 5-year career, he has 309 at bats.)

This weekend, the Yankees played a team of highly paid vets against one of youngsters. They were lucky to win one game. They have two players whose stars are still ascending - Frazier and Gleyber Torres. The Yankees will go with Torres through thick and thin. But on Frazier, they always waver. 

In April, every post must note that it's a long, long season, and that no conclusions can be drawn. Still, across Yankee droughts - eras like the late 1960s, early 1980s and now - the problem is always the same: 

Big names with big contracts suck all the air out of the lineup. 

They can be named Tartabull or Mayberry, Wells or Hafner, or maybe Sanchez and Stanton. It's the curse of the Yankees - an owner who constantly carps about salaries, and who then takes on another overpriced, plummeting career. Don't get me wrong: It was great to see Roughned Odor contribute to yesterday's win. But where will he be on June 1? Has Odor changed his approach? And from here on, will he outproduce Estrada? 

It's too early to draw a bead on 2021. Still, close your eyes, and you can see 2013 - with a lineup of Wells & Hafner, Ichiro & Overbay, Youkilis & the Grandyman. That dismal team won 85 games. Let's not kid ourselves: So might this one. 

2 comments:

13bit said...

shit team, shit lineup, shit rotation, shit management, shit owner, shit conditioning coaches. shit shit shit.

if we win the series, I'll eat shit.

if we win the playoffs, I'll publicly apologize.

Anonymous said...

I was wrong. We actually won one game from the Tampons this series. Well, we didn't win it so much as they threw it away in the gutter. And even though the Tampons seemed to do everything they could to hand us the win, it still took extra innings and we barely won this thing. We finally win a magic runner extra inning affair!

You can bench Frazier for a game but you've got to put him back in there. He's the future. Gardner is the past. Gardy is not going to lead this team to a championship. He'll hit a homer here or there, when pitchers think he's hopeless and throw one right down the middle. But Gardner is not the future of the team, unless he's going to play with a cane until he's 90 years old. They must really dislike Frazier. He goes 0 for 17 and he sits, despite getting off to a hot start in the early games. Stanton is hitting under .200 and he plays.

Did you notice that Sanchez has reduced the size of his leg kick? He's making much better contact. Why didn't this happen when he started struggling three years ago?

The Hammer of God