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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Perspectives: June 19, 2024

by Paul Semendinger

June 19, 2024

***

I had my own baseball game, so I missed last night's game against the Orioles. As I got in the car to drive home, I anxiously awaited the final score. I was thrilled to hear that the Yankees won. I was not thrilled to hear that Aaron Judge got hit by a pitch. Still, I didn't have to suffer the angst of so many. Almost immediately, I heard that Judge's X-Ray came back clean and that he was fine. Whew.


The 2024 Yankees can ill afford to lose Aaron Judge.


Now, we have to hope Judge was telling the truth. The Yankees do not, at all, have a good track record when it comes to these things.

***

The 2024 Yankees have lost Anthony Rizzo, who, I believe is now at a crossroads in his career. Last year he suffered a terrible concussion. This year he has a broken bone. While the Yankees were originally saying he'd be out four to six weeks, today I read in the NY Post that it will be eight weeks.


If the Yankees need Anthony Rizzo as a first baseman in eight weeks, their championship hopes will have probably gone away or greatly diminshed. Ben Rice is going to get a nice long audition. That's the correct move. If Rice can handle the big leagues, there will be no reason to take him off first base. If he can't, I suppose the Yankees will deal for a first baseman. If neither thing happens, the Yankees will be in trouble. Even is all of that occurs, Anthony Rizzo, at this point in his career, will not be the answer.


This was a position they were going to ahave to address this year. Anthony Rizzo looked done as a productive hitter as it was. His defense took a huge step backwards as well. It would make very little sense to bring back a player who has been so unproductive in the middle of the stretch drive in August or September.


I like using OPS+ a s a quick stat because it's so clear. A 100 is an average big leaguer. In 2024, Anthony Rizzo's OPS+ is 79. That is simply... bad. Last year, it was 94. Again, a below average hitter.


It is sad when the end comes. It's even sadder when the end comes because of an injury. But if the Yankees are in a heated pennant race, it looks like this is the end of Anthony Rizzo in pinstripes. Or, it should be.


If the Yankees are out of it, which isn't likely, Rizzo could come back and then ride off into the sunset. It would be a nice way for him to go, but it wouldn't be good for the team or the fans. We don't want meaningless games late in the year.


Again, in a pennant race, where every game matters, there is no place for a player who, at his best this year, looked way past his prime.

***

Tonight Gerrit Cole returns. It will be great if he is the Gerrit Cole of old, but fans shouldn't expect that.


Last year was... last year. Cole was great. He might be great again, but no one should expect him to be the 2024 Gerrit Cole.

***

I keep hearing that Scott Effros and Lou Trivino will be returning and they'll make the Yankees' bullpen stronger. Again, I'm not so sure.


Jose Trevino was out last year with an inury. He hasn't returned as the same player defensively. The same was true for Anthony Rizzo. D.J. LeMahieu as well.


It's not easy to come back from an injury and be the player one was before the injury. Sure, Aaron Judge looks great this year. It took even him, one of baseball's greatest players, an outlier for sure, a long time to get back. His second half numbers last year, after his injury, were not spectactular. His April 2025 wasn't good.


The Yankees will not be able to afford for Scott Effros, Lou Trivino, and Anthony Rizzo to have a bad month to get back to their former levels.

***

I'm hoping Ben Rice makes the discussion moot.


I'm hoping the Yankees start to look to the young arms in their system to improve the bullpen.


And I'm hoping that Hal Steinbrenner gives Brian Cashman all the latitude he needs to make whatever deals are out there to make the Yankees the best team possible this year.


The 2025 Yankees will look radically different from this club. As it stands, they'll probably hava different first baseman (unless Ben Rice is the real deal), second baseman, third baseman, and left fielder. This year, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto have been other worldly. If Soto is back (I can't see that the Yankees can let him go), it's very likely that he and Judge won't be this good next year. Playing better than great isn't the expectation. And in 2024, that's what they have been. That's a lot of changes.


2024 is The Year. I hope from the top down, the Yankees realize this and go all-in.


Waiting to next year is not an option.

***

Willie Mays was considered the greatest living Hall of Fame player. Who is that player now? Carl Yastrzemski? Dave Winfield? Reggie Jackson? Mike Schmidt? Ken Griffey, Jr.?


This will probably make many of us feel very very old, but I suspect that the greatest living Hall of Famer is Rickey Henderson.


I also think Rickey Henderson is one of the most under-rated greats of the game. He's so unique that his greatness isn't even comprehended.


297 homers

3,055 hits

The all-time leader in stolen bases

The all-time leader in runs scored

On and on...


Rickey was special. I wish he had been a Yankee longer.

***

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39 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jun 19

"But if the Yankees are in a heated pennant race, it looks like this is the end of Anthony Rizzo in pinstripes. Or, it should be".


What I am hoping happens is that Rizzo remains in pinstripes by being named as a Yankee coach. That would keep a great human being on the team, in uniform, and would maintain the great chemistry that Rizzo is part of with this Yankee ballclub, not to mention his great clubhouse presence and his great leadership. Perhaps Rizzo can replace Travis Chapman as the Yankees 1B Coach and infield instructor. Despite his diminished defense this season, over the course of his career prior to this one, Rizzo has been one of the better defens…


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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jun 19
Replying to

What I was thinking is that Rizzo, for many years as a first baseman, has observed opposing players, seeing the leads they take off 1B, seeing how they read the pitcher, and seeing when they choose to run and attempt to steal, or seeing when opposing runners start running to get a head start so they can continue on to third, so he may be able to advise his own team's baserunners on those things, not from his experience as a baserunner, but from what he has observed the opposition doing for all these years from his 1B position.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 19

Prediction: Rizzo goes on the 60-day IL, doesn't come back until September roster expansion.


Aaron Judge post-return 2023 (July 28-Sept. 30): .245/.408/.557/.966. That's not exactly chopped liver. It was also 4 points above his pre-injury season (through June 3) OBP, but he lost a lot of power, with his SLG going down about 120 points. Put another way, if Judge's entire season had been at his post-return batting rate, he'd still have led the Yankees in OPS by 166 points (Torres at .800 was No. 2). The real harm from Judge's injury wasn't a weakened return, but the 54-day absence.


The highest lifetime WAR for a living player (just as it was the day before yesterday, BTW) is 162.8 for…


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fantasyfb3313
Jun 19
Replying to

honestly, from time to time, even on teams i cannot stand, there are players I respect too much to hold a lot of bad feelings about. I definitely did NOT have bad feelings about Yaz. probably I even cheered for him when they did not play my team.


and i never had any bad feelings at all about Ripken. really a class act in every way.


if you saw my other post, you see, I have Rickey and Pujols, ahead of Yaz and Ripken. I feel comfortable with that ranking. I would also put Griffey Jr ahead of Yaz. i am trying not to get myself to a place where i need to give a lot more effort to try…

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jjw49
Jun 19

Paul, I would like to read your thoughts on Willie Mays beyond a sentence or two!

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 19
Replying to

Another stat that has wide currency is JAWS7, which averages career WAR with peak 7 seasons (not necessary consecutive). https://www.mlb.com/glossary/miscellaneous/jaws It gives a boost to high performing players over a shorter period, but keeps longevity as an equal factor. Highest JAWS7 players, Ruth, Mays, Aaron. Among living players, it's Reggie Jackson, Larry Walker and Dwight Evans. That list by itself demonstrates the limitations of the statistic.

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cpogo0502
Jun 19

I would like to see Cole throw a few four seamers "up and in." If one or more Orioles get hit in the hand, tough noogies.

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fuster
Jun 19

It's not easy to come back from an injury and be the player one was before the injury.


much easier for a well-attended athlete in their mid-20s than for one in their mid-50s.


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jun 20
Replying to

I know

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