Friday, October 1, 2021

As a Yankee icon, Aaron Judge could be ascending into Jeter Territory

Over the last month, Aaron Jeter - (whoops,  sorry, I meant Aaron JUDGE) - has barely resembled the giant who batted second last spring. Physically, of course, Judge looks like Judge, the colossus. But over the last few weeks, Judge has produced in big game situations, and - frankly - in his early years, clutch hits were not always found on his Bingo card. 

Since Aug. 1, Judge has hit .300 with 18 HRs, vaulting into the upper tier of MVP candidates. (He won't win, but deserves Top Five.) Since his HRs into the cornfield,  he's become the guy you want up in critical situations. Back in May, he was a DP grounder, and you even heard whispers that the Yanks would pull a Mookie Betts and include him in a massive trade overhaul. Now, he's an untouchable Yankee icon. If anyone thought the Yankees might deal him this winter, that notion is gone.

Clutch hitting is hard to quantify and harder to keep up. Last year, nobody came through more bigly than DJ LeMahieu. This year, when DJ steps in, you cringe. Right now, the Yankees' ascension has come via the two towers - Judge and Giancarlo. For Stanton, September brought rebirth, the chance to be known as a great hitter, rather than the contract that tanked the next decade. For Judge, it's meant perhaps a future role as Captain and the certainty that he must be a lifelong Yankee. 

Other stupid thoughts: 

1. With a dapple of luck - thanks, Baltimore! - the Yankees will hit the one-game Wild Card carrying the torch for all of NYC sports. What a cesspool. The Giants and Jets suck, the Knicks are the Knicks, and even a fire hose full of money could not save the Nets. And then there is the Mets. Wow. Steve Cohen must be shaking in his hot tub. Baseball sure brings genius titans to their knees. 

But why is NY sports so fundamentally awful, so perpetually broken? I think it's the distractions. Jason Giambi once compared playing for the Yankees to being a rock star. Last time I looked, Springsteen still has never won a pennant. (Note: Freddie Mercury did sing WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. That's almost a ring.) 

2. If there was such a thing as "Coach of the Year," Matt Blake would be a top candidate. He's a refreshing no-name after the Yankees for decades burned through the Larry Rothschilds and Billy Connors of Creation. Last night, Blake came out to settle Mean Chad Green (who last month seemed ready for the glue factory), Luis Severino (who nobody foresaw being here in October) and Michael King (who has become a huge part of this staff.) In each case, whatever Blake said, it worked. 

3. If Jonathan Loaisiga is really back - fingers crossed - we might hit the playoffs with the best bullpen of any team, that is, after the endless cavalcade of rifles in Tampa. For now, we're so deep that Lucas Luetge - with a 2.73 ERA - is the last name called. Of course, one of these days, Sevy will give up a run - (he's thrown six scoreless, thus far) and somebody will blow. (Holmes has been iffy, lately.) And - gulp - then there is El Chapo. I still suffer from PCSD: Post-Chapman Stress Disorder. Until we win a World Series, when Aroldis comes in, all I see is Jose Altuve. (And we will probably see him for real.)   

4. Bad luck for Luke Voit, who strained something while striking out. For the last week, YES cameras showed Luke stewing in the dugout - not malevolently, clearly rooting for his team, but with frustration simmering. Now, he's out with a bum knee and - let's face it - he'll probably never come back. Luke's problem was a porous infield that required a Mattingly at 1B to squelch throwing errors. Luke plays 1B like a linebacker. The Yankees needed Andrew Rizzo -as the band America once sang - "like the flower needs the rain." And I don't think there's a place in our future for Voit, an otherwise lovable lug.  

5. I'm not here to malign Gary Sanchez, whose been fan-whipped like a rented mule all year, and yet is still throwing runners out at second. (Way to go, Gary!) But coming to bat in a game situation, I see little difference between him and Kyle Higashioka. In 376 at bats, Gary has driven in 54 runs. In 190 at bats, Higgy has 29. Do the math. You find a better RBI ratio with Higgy. Again, Gary has been holding his own. But in the wild card, no matter who pitches, I'd go with The Higster.


Rufus T. Firefly said...

It's all just a cruel prelude to El Chapo giving up the season ending WP/HBP/HR against Tampa. The juju gods are just letting you get your hopes up to set up a soul crushing loss.

Carl J. Weitz said... omitted the NY Rangers. This is going to be a great year for them! A mix of talented veterans and more then a few youngsters with tremendous upside. Plus excellent goaltending. At minimum, the playoffs and with a little luck dare I say Stanley Cup champions??
That is my prediction. It's my intuition, my gut that is usually correct. Like knowing that Sevy would pitch this year for certain. Now if he can only pitch 2 starts....

DickAllen said...

Carl, the only way the Rangers win the Cup is if they convince Messier to come out of retirement.

Maybe we'll make a bet next season so you have a chance to win your money back.

el duque said...

I left the Rangers out of the list of embarrassments, but until they win something, they're still the Rangers. And Rod Gilbert is dead.

Anonymous said...

@Carl J. Weitz Nah, it won't be the Rangers, it'll be the Islanders. They have stacked themselves with veterans to make a run and could go all the way this year. If they can beat their nemesis the TB Lightning.

@Duque That was a quick turn-around! You've gone from being ready to jump off the bridge to running around screaming we are the champions! All kidding aside, hold your horses for just a moment. Here are my thoughts:

1. If we get bounced out of the playoffs again this year, we should trade Judge. His value will never be higher. He is at the age where performance will soon drop off. He is being wasted on a crappy borderline playoff team. Trade him before he's a free agent and get three or four top pitching prospects. Unless Judge wins the WS series this year (and fat chance of that), Judge does NOT equal Jeter.

2. When they were losing, Matt Blake seemed to be telling the Arson Squad all the wrong things. Now, he's telling them the right things? No, I think the return of Severino, Loisiga, Kluber, and company have helped stabilize the rotation and the bullpen. I still don't think Matt Blake was the right pitching coach to hire, not by a country mile, not by a zillion miles.

3. Our bullpen is the best? I'll believe that when I see it in the playoffs. Even if we somehow make it out of the WC game alive, we'll run into Houston or Tampa's bullpens. And we don't hit those guys, ever. If it comes down to a battle of bullpens, I don't like our chances.

4. It's too bad about Voit's knee. But I don't think Rizzo is the answer at 1B next year. Rizzo should be let go after this season. We need a lefty hitting first baseman. Probably a lefty hitting third baseman as well. Voit should be the DH. Stanton should play outfield until his wheels fall off.

5. Gary Sanchez is one of those guys who has lapses of concentration and gets into long streaks of sucktitude. Some of it is definitely in his head. Some of it may be physical. (Catching is the toughest position physically.) He may be approaching his sell by date. If we do deal him over the winter, we should try to get a left hitting catcher from somewhere. Not necessarily in exchange for Sanchez, but from anywhere, for anyone. We need to continue to try to balance out the lineup. I still see Gary Sanchez doing great elsewhere, for a couple of years. Our coaching just hasn't figured out how to push his buttons.

The Hammer of God

Dantes said...

Hey, if Severino keeps the scoreless run going they should just make him the closer for the duration of the season

JM said...

Voit is a fifth wheel on this car. Let him go and flourish somewhere else. Or not. Whatever.

Sanchez is not worth all the attention. He's up and down, back and forth, lousy and very good.

Which is why a guy like Rizzo makes sense to me. What we need is consistency, which we have sorely lacked. Consistent fielding. Consistent hitting. There will always be hot streaks and slumps, but I don't think it helps to have so many guys on one team always in a hot streak or a slump. Cole's inconsistency has been maddening, by the way.

The bullpen may well be the best, definitely one of the best. Right now. Will it keep that status into and through any playoff games we're in? Maybe. Maybe not. Even Tampa and Houston's guys aren't perfect. They can be hit, just not as much as other teams. Again, consistency. Achieving that is difficult, but it's the key, to my mind.

We can hot streak our way to a ring. We could fail miserably in the one-game playoff. Who knows? With this team, you can get anything. And that bothers me.

Though I will take the ring if it comes along.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "We Are The Champions," I'm still annoyed that the Yankees chose to play that instead of "New York, New York" after the last out of the 2009 World Series. Also, "We Are The Champions" sounds like a dirge -- like the "Let's Go Yankees" chant at the stadium. That chant annoys me, too. It sounds like something that would put the team to sleep, not wake them up. Put some pep into it, for chrissake.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Like the playoff numbers in the MLB standings, my odds of Sevy starting 2 games by the end of the Yankees season is < 0.12

Carl J. Weitz said...


Carl J. Weitz said...

Hammer, since Sanchez is arbitration eligible now, the Yankees might trade him if he is awarded too much which is a definite possibility. And they should get rid of him.

Anonymous said...

Carl, it comes down to what we can get for him. Three good prospects in return for Sanchez? I say go for it.

The Hammer of God

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Three unused, game ready baseballs for ICS?l And a no-givesies-back certificate?

I say go for it.

HoraceClarke67 said...

You guys are forgetting the Cashman Conundrum.

Dealing Sanchez? Even dealing Judge? Yeah, that might make sense. Except that BRIAN CASHMAN would be doing the dealing.

Cashman will get us "three or four good pitching prospects" for Judge, or "Three good prospects" for Sanchez, Hammer. Hahahahahaha. Good one.

Yeah, I still remember the four great pitching prospects we got for Mike Lowell. I'm sure the fans of the Marlins and Red Sox do, too.

HoraceClarke67 said...

I would love to get rid of Sanchez, but I don't think Coops will.

As for poor Voit, I don't know that he can ever remain uninjured long enough to be of use.

The question on Rizzo is: Is his inconsistency this year due to weakness from the Covid, or his decline due to age? But yeah, I wouldn't mind looking around for a new first baseman. But then, there's the Cashman Conundrum...

13bit said...

When he first sailed over the horizon, we had a naming contest here on this hallowed blog. people came up with many ideas and my friend and I decided that we liked “tiny“ the best. Among all those names, though, somebody suggested “captain.”

DickAllen said...

Hammer, did you say "IF" we get bounced out the playoffs this year?!?!?


This last month of (maybe possibly hopefully conceivably weather permitting) getting the wild card game will only embolden The Intern's heady belief that he's guiding the team to glory and will convince Harold to extend his contract into perpetuity. And then sign Booooooone to another deal, maybe even making him a "Franchise Manager." Don't forget: his calm leadership is what made this all (nearly IM)possible.

Two weeks of Giancarlo remembering that fastballs down the middle are hittable will be our undoing, as we fondly remember the joy of his acquisition quickly turning to shit.

And who the fuck suggested we trade for/find a lefty hitting catcher? Like they grow on trees. Jiminy Cricket. That is the surest sign of desperation. Or insanity. Or both.

As for Judge, let's see a show of hands: how many of you would like to see him wearing, say, a Padres uniform? Or any other uniform for that matter?

Gird your loins one and all. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin.

We are totally fucked.

Anonymous said...

Aaron "Mission Impossible" Booooooone. Hey, I like that! It's got a certain ring to it. Maybe they can get Tom Cruise to take in a game sometime. Mission Impossible Night.

The Hammer of God

Anonymous said...

@Hoss Yeah, unfortunately, the Cashman Conundrum is what it always comes down to here. A good GM could those things. Brainless? He'll scour the majors and find the next Michael Pineda, James Paxton, Sonny Gray.

Brainless doesn't retain the right coaching staff to get his players to develop. People who didn't suck before come here, and then ... they suck, then they leave, and all of a sudden, they're good again.

He doesn't have a good draft history either, especially for starting pitching. We haven't developed an effective + dependable/durable starting pitcher since Andy Pettite. Is that incredible, or what? We had Chien Ming Wang, but after a couple of years, he ended up retrogressing and then got hurt. Severino got hurt after a year or so. We traded Ted Lilly away pretty quick. In more than a quarter century, that's about all the starting pitching we've developed. You would think that, just by accident, we'd develop a good one every decade or so. Tampa seems to develop new ones every year.

The Hammer of God

Doug K. said...

1) Rizzo -

The guy is a pro. Look at how he almost casually makes those scoops. Like it's no big deal and of course he'll get the out.

This is not to be confused with Gleyber's casualness on what inevitably becomes a late throw.

Also, look at who he talks to on the bench. Mostly Cole, another pro.

His AYGHAB is pretty high.

That said, the vax thing pissed me off and he is on the wrong side of 30. So for me it comes down to at what cost and for how long. Also who else is available.

One thing for sure is, we cannot afford a marginal fielding 1B ever again. It is far too important a position to have a butcher out there. So no to Luke Voit.

2) Our Chances

We CAN be better than any team in the AL.

Making / Winning the WS? I just don't see it. El Chapo is still our closer. Boone is still the manager and Stanton is moving his feet again in the batter's box.

So I'm at one inning / one batter at a time. Yesterday I was surprised that they pulled it off. Today?

3) Judge

Gotta love him. Afraid to trade him because as has been said here... look who would be doing the trading. So he probably stays. I'm good with it. The alternative just doesn't seem real to me. Then again, Boston traded Betts. Then again again, did that really work out or them? I guess we will know by Tuesday eh?

Anonymous said...

Three good prospects for Sanchez? The daydreams of a partisan fan. You'll be lucky if anyone would give you three good ball boys for him.

ranger_lp said...

A very sad read about minor league baseball...

Rufus T. Firefly said...


Yes the poor billionaire owners need to keep costs down to:

Have fewer minor league teams, thus fewer younger fans coming out to see a pro game.

Make sure the few minor league teams left are in the larger market towns, where living expenses are higher, but hey -- profits!

Rufus T. Firefly said...

My former life was as a chemical engineer. I had just as short sighted management.

"We can put everything in with stainless steel that will last until we die and it will only be 1.25 the cost of cheap steel."

"How long will the cheap steal last?"

"Maybe three years."

"I'll be gone in three years and I'll still get the bonus for saving money this year!"

"Go with cheap steel and let some other sucker worry about it in three years! HAL, you have space on your yacht for the weekend?"