Yankees Perspectives: Monday, April 5, 2021
by Paul Semendinger
Well, we are now a few games into the season so it’s a good time for me to share some thoughts and perspectives on the season thus far.
The Opening Day loss was very frustrating, but it’s great to have the Yankees back.
Gerrit Cole looked solid on Opening Day. I had no problem with him being left in and giving up the home run. That’ll happen.
I did have a problem with the Yankees inability to move runners and score runs, even when it was handed to them. This will be a long, boring, and very frustrating season if we see Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Gleyber Torres (and others) striking out against good right handed pitching game after game after game. You would think that after years of this the manager, the hitting coach, the entire organization… and even the batters themselves would realize that the big swing approach is not working – especially late in games when all they need is a hit.
I predicted that D.J. LeMahieu would lead the team in hits in 2021. But, if he is the hitter he was in 2013 (.280), 2014 (.267), or 2018 (.276), the Yankees will be in trouble. He will be that hitter soon (maybe as early as next year, but 2023 seems more reasonable), but if he is that hitter this year, all the dreams and hopes for 2021 might fade away quickly. He is one of the few Yankees hitters who has a different approach at the plate – an approach badly needed by others.
I hope Gleyber Torres grows into the shortstop position because if he can’t field there, he’ll hurt the team. A lot. A team can’t win without a shortstop who makes the plays. I know the narrative, “Jeter wasn’t a great shortstop,” only… well, he at least made the plays more often than not. And, even if nothing else, he made the amazing plays that could change (and did change) a game (many games).
If Gleyber Torres demonstrates in 2021 that he’s not a shortstop, and again, there is plenty of time for him to demonstrate that he can do it, the Yankees do not have a position for him in 2022 and beyond. D.J. LeMahieu is a second baseman. The Yankees are paying him to play there for the next six years. D.J. is not a third baseman (and the Yankees seem set there with Urshela), he’s not an everyday first baseman (the Yankees have Voit), and I can’t see him being paid to be a utility player. Because of all this, a lot of the Yankees’ future is resting on Gleyber Torres. If he’s solid, the Yankees won’t need to get a shortstop. If he’s not, the Yankees will have to spend BIG to get one. And with that, it would then also make sense to trade Torres because (again) they’d have no position for him. Gleyber Torres would be Miguel Andujar 2.0 – a guy who can hit, a ton, but has no position that he can play defensively.
The extra inning rule with putting a runner on second base is so horrible it defies words. It’s rules like that, along with 7-inning double headers, that would have been laughed out of recreational baseball just a few short years ago, that are fundamentally changing the game – and not for the better.
I was very happy with how Corey Kluber looked in Game 2. I think he’ll have a great year. Pitchers who know how to pitch don’t forget how to pitch… and win.
Aaron Hicks could soon be riding the pine. His approach to begin the year has been horrible. Six strikeouts in the first two games. Then an 0-for-4 in the third game. Oh yeah, with another strikeout. Uggg. The Yankees should bat LeMahieu third. I’d rather see Hicks (strikeouts and all) leading off than batting third.
It’s early, way early, way, way, way early, but the Yankees came out of the gate flat. Completely flat. This has become somewhat of a trend for the Boone-led Yankees. In 2018, they began the season 6-7. In 2019, they began the season 2-4. Last year, the got out hot (and it was great) starting 8-1. Still, three of four seasons under Boone have led to a slow start. It’s frustrating to see this with a team as talented as this.
I keep hoping each year that the Yankees just demonstrate that they can play good crisp solid baseball… that they don’t all just swing for the fences, that they play fundamentally sound ball… Watching sloppy, poor fundamentals at bat and in the field year-after-year gets tiring quickly – and boring to watch, quite frankly. Again, it’s way early, but in the first three games I’m seeing much of what we’ve all seen for the last four years. It can change. It should change. But if it doesn’t, then the Yankees will need to change – a lot.
All of the above being said, the Orioles should be just the tonic the Yankees need to right the ship.
Let’s Go Yankees!