Perspectives: Some Quick Fixes?
by Paul Semendinger
August 13, 2022
We all know that the Yankees are in a funk. It's bad. It's real bad. They look terrible. .
Giancarlo Stanton went to the All-Star Game. He came back tired. We were told he needed a little rest. Then he went to the IL. The Yankees noted that he's probably be ready by this Red Sox series. In truth, he still isn't even running. If he's going to help the team, it won't be for a while.
Aaron Hicks is performing as Aaron Hicks has. He's been a poor hitter for four years now. He's batting .223 since the beginning of the 2019 season. He's just not very good.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a nice player. He gets hits, but he has no power. His defense has not been great. I think it's becoming clear that he's not a starting shortstop on a team that is looking to win the pennant.
Marwin Gonzalez is the one of the utility guys. He's batting .215 for the season. This isn't a bad year for him, it's a pattern. In 2020, he hit .211. In 2021, he hit .199.
Josh Donaldson has never gotten it going. He's at .228/11/43 for the year. This is also part of a pattern. In 2020, he hit .222. In 2021, he hit .247. He is a long way from the MVP-type player he was.
Gleyber Torres is hitting .181 in the season's second half. This was supposed to be the year he finally became a star, or at least proved to be a solid player.
The bullpen has crumbled. Clay Holmes has lost it. He's nowhere near the pitcher he was earlier this year. Clarke Schmidt was doing fine in the pen. He's now in the minor leagues getting stretched out in case the Yankees need a starting pitcher. (The Yankees traded away a starting pitcher about fifteen minutes before the trade deadline. That pitcher is 2-0, 0.00 for St. Louis.) Ron Marinaccio is also in the minors. Aroldis Chapman has been banished from the closer role, but he has a 2.89 ERA over his last 28 days.
It's not good. Not good at all.
Something needs to be done. Something needs to be done to turn the tide. The Yankees made deals at the deadline. They haven't helped, at least not yet. At this point, there are two choices:
Stay the course OR
Look to the minor leagues and the lesser-used players to hopefully infuse a needed spark
In his game recap from last night, Tim Kabel provides some ideas to help the club - call up Estevan Florial and Oswald Peraza. I agree with those ideas. Here are some other thoughts as well..
Since Giancarlo Stanton is injured with no timetable for his return, the time is ripe for the Yankees to give the starting DH job to Miguel Andujar. It's time the Yankees let him play. If there was one thing he could always do, it's hit. It Triple-A, he was batting .293/12/46. If this isn't his time, when is? If the Yankees aren't going to play him, why did they keep him around?
Estevan Florial is hitting .284/14/37. He is a centerfielder. Can he play centerfield regularly in the Major Leagues? Who knows? Ii is time we find out The player blocking him is Aaron Hicks. We already know that his best days are behind him. Maybe, just maybe, Florial can do the job. If this isn't his time, when is? If they Yankees aren't going to play him, why are they keeping him around?
Oswald Peraza is hitting .254/15/42 at AAA. He is considered a very good defensive player. It's time to see if he is an upgrade over IKF who can be moved to a utility role. The Yankees could then release Gonzalez. If Peraza falters, the Yankees have a safety net in Tyler Wade who could fill that same role just as well as Gonzalez did while also adding a speed dimension to the bench.
Those three moves could help. At this point, they can't hurt.
I would much rather see young, enthusiastic, eager players than guys who are the opposite. Aaron Hicks is what he is. There is nothing to look forward from him. He's 32-years-old. His best days are behind him (and, unfortunately, they just weren't great). He had some great moments, he couldn't sustain them. Estevan Florial is still only 24-years-old. If this isn't his time, when is it?
Give these players the next 17 days before the Sept. 1 post-season roster deadline to see what they can do. If they perform, maybe they can help carry the Yankees through the playoffs. If they don't perform, the Yankees can always go back to the guys who are already not performing. And, by then Harrison Bader will be ready. Right? And Giancarlo Stanton too. Right? That what the Yankees keep saying...
(This is a different topic, and this is an over-simplification, but it is indicative of the way the Yankees operate... On one hand, they seem to get great performances out of players that no one ever expected for a period of time, but then, instead of understanding that it's most likely not sustainable, they believe in the small sample size and go all-in on that player, even when it is clear that the peak was the outlier. They did this with Luke Voit. The time to trade him was when he led the league in homers. They are sticking with Clay Holmes when it's clear he should not be the closer. They gave Aaron Hicks a long-term contract after his one pretty good year. (These are just three examples of many.) But then, on the other hand, when they lose faith in a player, guys like Florial and Andujar, they never seem to give them a fair chance to redeem themselves. They bury them, while, at the same time, they refuse to trade them until their value drops significantly. I'll explore this in greater depth another time. It's a frustrating dynamic that seems to play out time and time again.)
Some other quick fixes would be to:
Make D.J. LeMahieu the starting third baseman and roll with Gleyber Torres at second base every day going forward. If nothing else, this provides consistency for the two players. We know what Josh Donaldson brings. It hasn't been great. His best days are behind him.
Install Aroldis Chapman as the closer again. The Yankees do not have a choice. Clay Holmes is not the answer right now.
Recall Clarke Schmidt and Ron Maraniccio from the minor leagues and make them two high-leverage relief pitchers. This would allow the Yankees to work with Clay Holmes to help him find his stuff again. It's clear the talent is there. What happened? The coaches need to figure it out... and quickly!
The Yankees still have a sizeable lead in the American League East. If this isn't the time to see what these players can do to improve the faltering team, when is that time?