As happens sometimes, nothing arises during the course of a few days that I find to be worth 1,000 words of analysis and discussion, and I promised myself I when I started this blog that I would never fall into the trap of saying something just for the sake of saying something – i.e., pulling a Jack Curry. But that doesn’t mean that nothing has been going on worth noting – so here are some quick hitting discussion points for you. This is the closest I’ll ever get to the nonsensical sound bites and “hot takes” non sequiturs to which we are usually exposed:
…is the worst Yankee player ever. Literally. He’s had six straight seasons with a negative WAR score (I so wish I could remember who brought that to my attention so I could give credit…). I’m thinking that has to be some kind of major league record, as I find it hard to believe that someone who is worse than a minor leaguer for six consecutive seasons would still have a job. But I narrowed my focus to just Yankee players and what I found was that no other Yankee has ever had 6 seasons of negative WAR total over their careers. In other words, there were players with 5, 4, 3, seasons of negative WAR, but they also had seasons of positive WAR to somewhat justify their repeated inclusion on the roster. Romine has six in a row, and zero seasons with a positive WAR. For a team with the resources the Yankees have this is an amazing revelation. I think this flies under the radar because…
There’s nothing to dislike about Romine, Jacoby Ellsbury or Todd Frazier, and that’s a problem. All three hustle, all three keep their mouths shut. Obviously we don’t know what happens in the clubhouse, but they all seem to be liked by their teammates. But this is why their shortcomings get overlooked, and it’s keeping the Yankees from improving. As noted, Romine is not a major league player, Ellsbury has no business playing over any other Yankee outfielder, and Frazier has two years of play that don’t come close to justifying keeping Garrett Cooper off the field.
My theory on Aaron Judge:
I’ve read, heard, and seen people judge Aaron Judge’s lack of hitting over the last few weeks ad nauseum. What’s wrong, is he doing this or that, should he be doing this or that, blah blah blah…More often than not, it’s spoken from someone who has no idea how to hit, or how to recognize good or bad hitting, which makes it particularly frustrating to listen to. Here’s the problem with Aaron Judge: Baseball is hard. Very hard. People need to be reminded of this. This is why you don’t judge players based on a few months of work, and it’s why you appreciate the great players even more. I think Aaron Judge is going to be a great player for a long time, but even if he isn’t, I’m not going to judge him off of a bad month, and I’m certainly not going to critique his swing.
…has been the most valuable Yankee relief pitcher this season, by far. He ranks 8th in MLB in WAR among relivers, at 2.1. (as an aside, Adam Warren is 2nd on the team among relievers). It seems odd Green has been more valuable than Betances or Chapman to you? Not to me. Do you want to know why? It’s not because of his performance, although that’s a factor as Green has been great. It’s because he’s used in important situations, in the middle of the game, for more than three batters when the outcome of the game is still in doubt. (As opposed to being used for one inning when the Yankees have a lead of three runs or more – as Aroldis Chapman has been used 13 times this season.) He’s more valuable than the others because he pitches more, in more important situations. I’m noting this as it’s as much of a testimony to Joe Girardi’s inability to manage a bullpen as it is to Green’s performance. Getting more than three outs against the other team’s best hitters in a close game is when your best available pitcher needs to be in the game – not when you need 14 pitches against the bottom of the other team’s lineup with a 4 run lead. I don’t know if Green is the Yankees’ best pitcher – I assume Yankee brass doesn’t think he is, as he makes just above league minimum and Chapman makes $17 million and change annually. But he is their most valuable mostly due to Girardi’s mangling of the bullpen.
As usual, the terms “high leverage” and “closer” will never be used in this blog.
Also as usual, thanks to Baseball Reference for the information.