Saturday, May 7, 2022

What's wrong with Higgy? And why can't the Yankees develop a catcher?

In a nutshell, why haven't the Yankees haven't won a world series game since 2009? 

Actually, to answer that question requires less a nutshell than a nut sac. (Badaboom.) The Yankees' inability to raise a Yogi, an Elston, a Thurm, a Jorge - even a Joe Girardi - reflects a massive wrench in the Matrix. In our lifetimes, every great Yankee team fielded a sparkplug backstop, if not a future Hall of Famer. But but BUT... despite high draft picks and an avalanche of  international spending on 16-year-olds, the last decade has fruited us a Jesus, a Kraken and Austin Romine, and this year, that systematic impotence could be the difference between a wild card and a world series.

WTF? Of course, 2022 was to be the year that Cooperstown Cashman abandoned his delirious search for a slugging SS and C - instead, building defensively up the middle. Thus far, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been a revelation, but behind the plate, we're sucking recycled air. With one existential question: What's up with Higgy?

That's Kyle Higashioka, of course. He  led the team in spring training with seven HRs, 11 RBIs and a batting average of .423. Fukking Ruthian. Last year, he hit 10 HRs in 220 ABs, leading us to suspect he could be Sanchez-esque: a 20-HR catcher in a full season. (Last year, Gary hit 23.) 

Well, next March, and for the rest of my stupid life, whenever somebody has a breakout spring, please scream at me, in caps, HIGGY, HIGGY, HIGGY!

Thus far- and, yeah, it's early, only 46 ABs - Higashioka is hitting .152 with no HR and 4 RBIs. At 32, he is starting to look like a career backup. With 29-year-old Jose Trevino - hitting .161, (he came in the trade for Albert Abreu, currently out with a sprained ankle) - the Yankees have assembled perhaps the worst offensive catching duo in baseball. 

Okay, I know what you're thinking: What about Ben Rortvedt, Mr. Universe, who came in the Gary/Gio/Donaldson dump with the Twinkies? Benny Biceps is still nursing a strained oblique, which predated the trade. He has yet to swing a bat in Scranton. Speaking of Triple A, the Railriders catcher last night was 28-year-old Max McDowell - 13 for 51 on the season, no HR. He's teaming with Rob Brantley, age 32, who is 6 for 17 with a dinger. We're talking about veteran minor league lug nuts. Nothing wrong with that. But no future in it.

Two of our last five first round draft picks were catchers. Anthony Siegler's development has been slow, he's stuck in Low Single A, age 22, and getting a chance after another guy's been hurt. Austin Wells, also 22, is hitting .316 at High A, but there is talk that his future is at 1B.

Maybe Rortvedt will make a difference. If not, no cavalry is coming. In the meantime, we can only ask, what's wrong with the Higster?


The Archangel said...

Why wait til March?


AboveAverage said...

I just made some critical changes to the lyrics of yesterday's musical offering.

So without much further ado - here we go:

and a one and a two and a three

STOP seeding the Clouds

There'll be no big Crowds

Its raining Cats and Dawgs AGAIN

In old Noo-oo Yaaaaawk

There'll be NO MORE GAMES


Its up to YOU

Please STOP


Thank you very much - you've been a great audience

BTR999 said...

Not sure why there’s any confusion. Hig has never been able to hit MLB pitching. He was just…there. Spring Training is full of lies, as Mike Axisa wrote. Hig is a good guy, a team player who gives his best effort. He just can’t hit. Once the automated strike zone becomes real, the value of C’s like him and Trevino decrease even further. We might try targeting young catching in other organizations which will be extremely costly. There is simply not enough quality catching to go around.

Rortvedt seems like damaged goods. Cashman claims they “knew all about” the injury, and Boone said he could be ready on opening day. This was gaslighting at its finest (or worst). Here we are a month later. Last we heard, Big Ben was “ramping up” his workouts, apparently meaning he is jacking off twice a day instead of once.

Today’s game cancelled, will be made up 1pm Monday. Derby Day today. Have a great date All.

EDB said...

Kyle hit .246 overall in the minors. Back of the Baseball card. He was brought up at age 27 and because Austin Romine cost too much for Cheapskate Hal. I do not think Romine is playing this year. He is 33 and would hit way above No Hitgoshioka. Check out the ages of the catchers at Scranton. The excuse is that catchers are hard to find. Just how many prospects, let alone catchers, have been developed under Genius Cashman.

JM said...

AboveAverage, you forgot to say "I'll be here all week, try the veal!"

If they want some at least potential offense from a catcher, Brantley seems to be hitting. Bring him up, send Trevino down, and see what happens.

It's not like we have anything to lose.

AboveAverage said...

JM - The kitchen told me that they were outta veal, but they've got plenty of brisket - Now you must excuse me but I gotta go tip the waitress.

Carl J. Weitz said...

It looks like Romine did not opt out of his $ 100,000 minor league contract with the Angels and is playing at their AAA affiliate. Surprised that he didn't opt out and make a better deal with another organization even at 33.

As to why the Yankees have not developed a better than average catcher is the same reason why they haven't developed a good third baseman, shortstop, second baseman or first baseman ( or CF for that matter). Or put another way, an entire infield. Because they have piss poor scouts and talent evaluators. Hey, not every prospect makes it but in their case, no one makes it. Not even the top prospects they get from other teams in trades. They ruin almost every player they acquire. But, of course, no accountability.

Doug K. said...

I think the issue with developing catchers in general is that the position lacks glamour and requires the most intelligence. Combine that with the physical demands and most kids with ability become attracted to other positions.

So the pool is shallow to begin with.

In fact, I'd go so far as to posit that the only kids playing catcher these days are ones that can't hit but love the game and volunteer to play the least desirable position on the field just so they can stay on it.

It's going to get worse. Throwing out base runners is getting devalued because the art of the steal is getting devalued and pitch framing is about to become irrelevant leaving only pitch calling and blocking bad pitches.

Pitch calling (thanks to the use of Bluetooth) will soon be done from the dugout or perhaps even "upstairs" so that will be gone soon as well.

Catching just isn't valued like it used to be and, as such, a good to great hitting catcher will become rarer and rarer. It's not the Yankees. It's the evolution of the game.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

On the same day this IIHIIFIIc blog post appears decrying the Yanks ability to develop a homegrown catcher, I come across this article about a Yankee minor league catcher hitting .387 on a AA team.

I'm not sure what to make of it other than this kid has a whale of a PR rep.

HoraceClarke66 said...

AMEN, Carl Weitz! And very interesting thought about catching, Doug K. I fear you may be right.

HoraceClarke66 said...

I like the look of that guy, LBJ. An underrated guy, who has also played infield—sounds a lot like Jorge Posada, the last catcher we DID develop.

HoraceClarke66 said...

—It's no surprise Rortvedt has been hurt. I could see that from the first pix of him with those ridiculous biceps, and wrote it at the time.

—Of course they should have picked up Romine when they could have. If they weren't going to go for Realmuto—which I thought they should have—then they should have at least brought back Romine. I wrote that at the time.

—Seigler was a terrible draft pick. I saw that at the time, and wrote it. The fanfare was all about how he could throw with both hands, and pitch, and I think juggle, too. The guy's 23, and he's doing okay this that he was sent back from High A to Low A. He's been a pro since 2018 and has never PLAYED more than 41 games in a season, much less done anything of worth.

Their number two pick that year was Josh Breaux. He's made it all the way up to Double-A, where this year he's hitting .188 in 17 games. I thought he would be a bust, too, and I wrote it at the time.

I don't write this to boast (though I never mind boasting). I know next-to-nothing about baseball, compared to your average, competent GM.

But those are the operative words here: "average" and "competent." These are standards that Brian Cashman has never attained. Hence our catching stinks.

HoraceClarke66 said...

One more thing on the importance of catching:

Asked the secret of his success with the Yankees, Casey Stengel said: "I never played a big game without my man."

Meaning Yogi Berra.

The famed Yankees lineage of great catchers: Bill Dickey-Yogi-Elston Howard-Thurman Munson-Jorge Posada.

Not too bad.

Carl J. Weitz said...

And if I remember correctly, Seigler and Breaux can't throw any base runners out.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I nominated LBJ for scouting director.

After the next owner hires Hoss as GM.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yes, Carl Weitz, they are totally useless. A blind man throwing darts at a draft selection on a board could not do worse. Who was the last NYY number 1 pick to make it?