Within the next couple of weeks, the “Old” New York Yankees will be taking the field for the first time in several months. What are the implications…
Aaron Boone, manager of the New York Yankees, said it best when he quizzically looked at a reporter who asked him, “What are you going to do when Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton return to the Yankees”? Astonished, Boone replied, “They’re gonna play”.
Indeed, both are going to play – every day. The reporter, of course, was sincere in the question he asked. He was referring to the sudden overload in the outfield and DH spot when Judge and Stanton return, and the ensuing impact it’s destined to have on the team that’s carried the Yankees into first place in the AL East – despite injuries to their star players.
Boone’s answer makes sense, but it doesn’t address the matter of reduced playing time for Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, and Cameron Maybin. Boone didn’t say it because he doesn’t have to, but Aaron Hicks, a long-time favorite of Boone and Brian Cashman, is also going to play every day, health permitting.
Yankees: Too Much Of A Good Thing?
On the surface, most would say yes, even though any manager would opt for the same thing if given a choice. But the Yankee way is the professional way. It’s a culture inbred from the first time a player dons the pinstripes. Just do your job. No whining. And your job is what we say your job is.
So, if you look at the players involved here, only Clint Frazier represents a potential glitch or hiccup to Boone’s plans. At 24, Frazier has struggled to “fit in” (self-described) with the Yankees. To his credit, all that frustration and anger he holds inside burst out with a productive season going forth on the field.
Frazier is not the odd man out by any stretch. The Yankees like his quick bat, and much like Gary Sanchez, they believe in Frazier despite the controversy surrounding his play in the outfield, together with his “Oops, I didn’t mean to say that” tendencies.
Boone and Cashman are at a crossroad with Frazier. It’s a fifty-fifty chance Frazier will take well to a demotion back to Triple-A without another public “staredown” with reporters. Short of a trade, it’s a chance the Yankees may have to take.
On the other side are Gardner and Maybin. Both are seasoned professionals and they understand the business side of baseball. In the case of Maybin, he knows he’s lucky to have been given the chance by the Yankees to resurrect his career, and most likely his attitude will be, Que Sera, Sera.
Brett Gardner, whether he knows it or not, is in need of some time on the bench. When Aaron Hicks went down, the veteran was forced into action as an everyday player, spending a good amount of time running balls down in center field. He a true-blue Yankees and he’ll do whatever the team needs from him.
Yankees: Who Plays Is Not The Real Problem…
Of more concern than who plays is the impact Stanton and Judge will have on the Yankees lineup. Currently, there’s a “flow” in the batting order that drives pitchers crazy. It’s predicated on a line-drive mentality, producing men on base and keeping the pressure on the pitcher. The power is still there (102 home runs so far), but it’s not, with the possible exception of Gary Sanchez, the focus of team at-bats.
In one sentence, the Yankees don’t need all the strikeouts Judge and Stanton (especially) are likely to produce. Rally killers. When Boone slots them back-to-back in the lineup, it’s almost a given one of the two will strike out.
Both, however, are professional hitters. And perhaps, they will adjust on their own to the winning formula the rest of the team is exhibiting.
Aaron Boone gave the only sensible answer to the question posed to him. Both Stanton and Judge will play. But in the back of his mind, Boone has to be wondering as well what the impact is going to be when both are back in the Yankees lineup…
And whether or not that “Collective Determination” proven to be a winning force (Video):