Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Little Things Mean A Lot

A lack of splashy trades or free-agent signings have left the 2017 Yankees with a solid if unspectacular lineup and a core of youngsters waiting in the wings.  It's those two notions -- low expectations and bright future -- that made the following stand out to me.  Tucked inside the "Inside Pitch" section of an article on Masahiro Tanaka's excellent spring was this head-scratcher:
The remaining jobs to be decided: AARON HICKS or AARON JUDGE in right field
Come again?  Is that referring to the same Aaron Hicks who hit .217 last season?  The Aaron Hicks who has hit under .220 in three of his four major league seasons?  That guy is in a job competition?  With who?

Aaron Judge!  Wasn't Aaron Judge the much-touted Baby Bomber who made his 2016 debut by knocking one out in his first trip to the plate?  And then followed that up with extra-base hits in the next two games, as well?

Maybe Joe Girardi was just trying to make things interesting.  Perhaps giving Hicks a boost that will keep him focused as the 4th outfielder this season.  Nope.  The next day, Joe was back at it:
AARON JUDGE went 2 for 3, AARON HICKS was 1 for 2 with a walk, and each drove in a run in Thursday’s 5-5 tie as their competition in right field continued. “We’re going to let it go to the wire,” JOE GIRARDI said.
Okay, sure, after that amazing start, Judge started to struggle and looked like Pedro Cerrano.  But isn't that what rookies do?  Shouldn't we give Judge that opportunity to figure out his swing?  How is he going to learn to recognize a curveball from the bench?

If we accept the premise that the 2017 season will not end with a championship, and that 2018 and beyond could be something special, then why are we wasting time with Aaron Hicks?  At best, Hicks is a marginal offensive player with a great glove and arm.  If that doesn't scream "4th Outfielder", I don't know what does.  Meanwhile, Judge has the potential -- yes, potential -- to be a great power hitter.  Let the big kid play.