Thursday, May 12, 2022

There is only one problem with the MLB standings: It's May

Thoughts after a two-game Ryan McBroom, (which is a Ryan McBroom, nonetheless.) 

1. Amid the jubilation over Aaron Judge's game-winning bomb against Team Canada, you can detect whispers and weary exhalations. His first walk-off HR. Yeah, it's mean to say, but... over the years, in such moments, Judge has more often been known to fail. 

Statistically, his career BA in "late and close" games is .292 - not bad at all. (In fact, better than his lifetime .277.) Still, he remains a Paul Buyanesque figure, and every failure gets magnified by the zit-finding microscope of Gotham. This year, with the contract thing, and the ghost of Robbie Cano looming, the only way Judge could attract more attention would be to date a Kardashian. Or Pete Davidson. Amber Heard?

Right now, he seems to be emerging as Team Leader, the de facto captain. (Seriously, who else could hold that role? Rizzo? LeMahieu? Nope. It's Judge or a reincarnated Brett Gardner, wherever he is. Have another cold-one, Gardy!) But as long as Judge's contract remains unsettled, the Yankees won't be naming him captain, or even outfield ward boss. 

Wait... did I mention that, right now, Judge is, hands down, the American League MVP? 

The new labor agreement did not bring harmony between the players and owners, the millionaires v the billionaires, and pressure is still building on big name stars to push the salary envelope into outer space. If next winter brings Judge's lifetime payout - as right now, seems likely -the union will want him to shoot for planet Jupiter. To me, that's a recipe for Robbie II? Will Jay-Z come out of sports agency retirement?

2. Few ex-Yanks have retained their fanbase good will as much as Gio Urshela. The diehards will spew bile over Gary (.203 with 1 HR for the Twins) and Red Thunder, (bearded and recovering from an appendectomy), but never is heard a discouragin' word about noble Gio - lovable Gio - who we still see diving headlong into the Rays dugout to grab that foul pop. 

Last night, Gio broke up Justin Verlander's no-hitter in the eighth. 

Damn... guy's still a Yankee.

3. The Redsocks might be having one of those years. Latest buzz is that Humphrey Bogaerts might go the Aug. 1 deadline, with Boston (fourth worst record in MLB, after Reds, Tigers and Nats) launching a Tankathon-grade, Mookie Bettsian sell-off. 

It's too early for such drama, but it's glorious fun to see the Beantown media pick at the sores. If they start reliving the days of Bobby Valentine, buy me a front row seat. The Gammonites can be mean, and we won't want to miss a word.

That said, be careful what you root for: A Boston collapse - with the jettisoning of Bogaerts - would raise ocean levels in next winter's free agent market. For example, they might go all-in on Judge. Anything could happen. Just sayin... 

4. Okay, I hate myself for this... but, gulp, Jasson Dominguez is hot. I know, I know... it's wrong, it's diseased, it's sick to stalk this poor rich kid, and here I go, rewarding the hype, which on the Yankee Scale of Evil falls somewhere between Jackson Melian and Bam Bam Meulens. 

That said... (there's always a "that said...") over his last four games, "The Martian" is 9-24 - (.375!) - with a HR and a few doubles. It's a long way from Gotham, and Dominguez serves to remind us of the perversion of prospect hype, which the Yankees do more than any other team. 

That said... last night, he went 1-for-4. His average sits at .252. There, I did it. Shoot me.

5. The Yank bullpen has been unreal, and if Matt Blake is the reason, drop the balloons. But my spider sense tingles with the sight of Mean Chad Green warming up. Every Green appearance seems to bring drama. 

In his last six outings, he has surrendered five runs, his ERA now up to 3.97 - too high for an eighth inning specialist, (though that role is clearly Loaisiga's.) The Yankees owe Chad a long, long leash. A few years back, he needed a stint in Scranton to rediscover his command. That probably won't happen again. Cross your fingers. I love the guy.

That said... I'm starting to worry. 


JM said...

Green has been remarkably bad, for Green. Come to think of it, King got smacked around pretty good recently, too. And Chapman...well, Chapman is Chapman. As Kay noted the other day, you can tell when he's got it and when he don't within the first few pitches. Amazing that he got through the 9th after giving up a run and not having much command. Yet, he did pull himself together and looked pretty dominant getting the last two outs.

Something's gonna crack, and my guess is soon. The starters, the bullpen, the offense (sputtering against the Rangers...the Rangers, Max)--it's all working even if individuals are having some issues. Yet we're facing seven games with the White Sox (fair to middling team) and seven with the Orioles until we hit Tampa in a couple of weeks. And then the Angels.

The test at the end of the month might bring Camelot to a humbling halt. According to the song, July and August cannot be too hot, but this is New York, baby. July and August are always too hot and too sticky. Our Yankees Spring could well go the way of the Arabs'.

TheWinWarblist said...

The season is long and Gallo - steadfast as ever - remains a fucking useless, turdlet and pus filled fuckface fucker.


ZacharyA said...

This biggest concern on the team is Aaron Hicks. Yes, more than Joey Gallo. Let me explain.

This isn't about Hicks' failures with RISP or his persistent health concerns, though those factors are related to the issue I see.

Hicks' ability to drive the ball has completely disappeared.

Obviously Hicks has never been a big-time slugger, but he's always had a sneaky bit of power in his bat.

From 2017-2021, Hicks averaged 1 HR every 20 AB and 1 XBH every 10 AB.

In 2022, he has 1 HR in 74 AB and that's his only XBH on the season.

That home run, by the way, was a 365-footer into the short porch. According to Statcast, it would've been a home run in exactly 1 ballpark, Yankee Stadium.

I can't emphasize this enough: it's not that Aaron Hicks' power has gotten worse. It's that Aaron Hicks' power is completely gone.

Look at these numbers for Hicks:

0 balls hit over 400 ft
0 balls hit over 380 ft
2 balls hit over 360 ft
3 balls hit over 340 ft
4 balls hit over 320 ft

We're halfway through May and Aaron Hicks has hit FOUR TOTAL BALLS further than 320 feet.

Three of those balls were lazy fly outs and the fourth was a lazy flyout that went into the short porch.

This is a serious problem for a starting outfielder.

Now, you might counter and say, "well Hicks doesn't need to drive the ball when he's drawing walks."

But why would pitchers continue to pitch Hicks so tentatively if he can't drive the ball at all? The league adjusts quickly, and I'm not the only one to notice what's going on here. Hicks is not going to run a 20% walk rate when he has the batting strength of a Little Leaguer.

I don't think we can simply dismiss this as part of the leaguewide decline in power output. The league has seen a roughly 5% decrease in SLG compared with the same timespan last year, thanks most likely to the deadened ball and/or widespread use of humidors. But this is not a 5% power drop for Hicks.

I suspect that the torn tendon in his wrist, suffered last season, is the major culprit here. The question now is: will Hicks regain his power as he moves further away from his surgery? Or is this the new Aaron Hicks?

And I further suspect that this issue is at least partly the cause of Hicks' terrible numbers with men on base. With bases empty, Hicks just doesn't swing very often, and when he does, he slaps at the ball, resulting in a bunch of walks and weakly hit singles. With men on base, Hicks aims for the seats, but he doesn't have that power anymore. He can't even get a ball into the gap. And so he never does anything productive with men aboard.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

JM said:

(sputtering against the Rangers...the Rangers, Max)

I gotta ask: Is that a sneaky reference to the movie Annie Hall?

AboveAverage said...

Winnie seems to REALLY like Gallo. A lot. Tons. I mean, like a bunch.

BTR999 said...

Twins, Max…and not the Minnesota kind

JM said...

Yes, LBJ, it is indeed.

JM said...

Zach, that's a great analysis of The Hicks Problem. He's not the player he used to be, and he wasn't exactly HOF material then.

Combine Hicks and Gallo, and on too many days we have a serious outage issue in the middle of the lineup. You don't win a Series with that.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Love the Annie Hall reference, Alvy...I mean, JM. Also loved the Camelot reference. Are we the most sophisticated fucking Yankees blog around, or what?

And yeah, combine Hicks and Gallo and Higgino and Rusty Crusty Donaldson and Falafel and you have not only a serious outage issue in the middle of the lineup, you have an entire bottom half of the lineup that won't do beans. Which is exactly what happened up in Boston last fall.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And yes, great—and frightening—analysis, Zach!

Still more frightening: even after this season, the Yanks owe Hicks almost $30 million in guaranteed drachmas. Meaning that Coops and HAL will do everything possible to avoid cutting him loose—and that even if they wanted to cut him loose, nobody will buy.

How many times is Cooperstown Cashman going to make that same mistake. Um, I guess for about as long as he's GM.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And good summing up, Duque.

I think you're very right to worry about the Mets grabbing Judge. Steve Cohen sounds like an absolute rotter, the sort of Wall Street sleaze king who repeatedly brings this country to the edge of ruin.

BUT...I'll say this for him: Unlike a certain Steinbrenner heir, Cohen seems to understand that the point of money is to bring happiness in this world. So he dies with a couple hundred million less and a World Series trophy. So what? He's going to take his ill-gotten lucre and have some fun.

HAL, I guess, really thinks there must be a great prize for being the most restrained owner in MLB.

Kevin said...

Hicks IS A BIG PROBLEM. Please🙏 bring Gardy back, please don't talk of The Matador as some kind of political prisoner in Scranton, plenty of players put together great rookie seasons only for the scouts to find their weaknesses. Higgy has been way overexposed. So we almost certainly need to upgrade the catcher and centerfield position (it will never be Florial, stop hoping). And probably a pitcher. Since The Brain has danced the boogaloo one too many times, to the writers no less, good luck.

The strange thing about Judge is the near cone of silence that the media, IMO, seems to cover him with. Moving on a little, Cohen, like George understood the value of stars. They put asses in the seats, and sells merchandise. Judge is the first REAL, MYTHICAL homegrown Yankee player since......dare I say it, Mantle? THEY FUCKING DAMN WELL NOT LET HIM GET AWAY! For once Hal must show some inspiration and toss the spreadsheets, Levine, and Trotsky out the window.

I hope that I was clear, and didn't offend anyone. This being an easily offended, tender group.

HoraceClarke66 said...

No offense taken, Kevin...but I'd say Jeter was a pretty mythical, homegrown Yankee player. Not to mention Donnie Baseball and The Great One.

But I take your point. As for Andujar, sure, he's no lock. But what he suffered from was mostly one devastating injury after another. If he's back—and I agree, that's a big IF, after all this time...why not?

Let's face it: Gardy's old and finished. Gallo is unbearable. Unless Hicks heals very, very fast, he will not be even the marginal starter he used to be...and then he'll probably get hurt again.

The only, immediate help they have—without making another, awful trade that further empties the farm system—is El Matador. I say give him a month at DH, and see what he can do.

To quote the immortal Randy Newman, "I could be wrong now...But I don't think so!"

Kevin said...

Horace, let's say that the Matador is brought up. Who does he steal abs from, and how will those guys react? Gardy might still have value as a true fifth outfielder. As for "mythical" I am thinking along the lines of someone that would have been a Hero out of Homer. His physicality is off the charts. I'm not quite ready to throw in towel with Gallo, just last year he was a 4.7 WAR player. He's only 28. But yeah, I get your point. BTW, I was kidding about offending anyone. The people on this site who are easily offended need to go back to ESPN.COM. 😇

Unknown said...

Lasagna hasn't got it this year. Neither does Green. Best guys are Holmes and King.