If the reports are accurate and the Yankees are seriously in pursuit of Nolan Arenado, there can’t be better news. But what’s up with the Miguel Andujar thing…
From the outside looking in at the Yankee’s fishbowl, I have learned it’s unwise to question the personnel decisions made by the Yankees, and in particular, Brian Cashman. But for the life of me, I can’t seem to unravel the teams appearing unhappiness with Miguel Andujar, to the extent that he goes as an “extra” on the team.
Offensively, Andujar led the team in batting average (.297) and doubles with 47. He finished second on the team in RBI with 92, and he came within a hair of beating out the Hollywood Prince, Shohei Otani, for Rookie of the Year in the American League.
Defensively though, Miguel Andujar has, well let’s just say, a lot to learn about fielding his position at third base. It’s much worse than that, and according to Fangraphs, Andujar had eighteen major league third basemen ahead of him in fielding last season. There’s no getting around it – he was horrible in the field in as many ways as you wish to measure it – as Fangraphs so eloquently does.
Nonetheless, Miguel Andujar has been playing in the Yankees organization since he was seventeen. You read that right, and in June he will reach the ripe old age of 24.
For some reason, the Yankees have undying faith in their passed ball prone catcher, Gary Sanchez, who has appeared to loaf on more than one occasion and barely managed to hit .200 last year. Sanchez gets a pass, and Andujar gets thrown out with the garbage. Or, so it seems.
Third base is a critical infield position – no argument there. Judgment in fielding bunts, getting into position on relay throws, and exhibiting quick and true reflexes on balls that come at you faster than the pitch that was thrown are all essential elements of a good fielding third baseman in the big leagues.
And no doubt, Manny Machado would have done a brilliant job at the position for the Yankees. And now, we have the introduction of an even better third baseman in Nolan Arenado, exposing the harrowing place occupied by Andujar even more.
We’ll get to Arenado in a minute, but here’s what I don’t understand. Why the apparent insistence in unloading Andujar – is there not another place on the team for him? Why for instance, can’t the Yankees convert him to an outfielder, and, in particular, a left fielder where he has substantially the same perspective as a fielder?
Brett Gardner is presumably in his final season with the Yankees. Would he not be the obvious choice to mentor and teach Andujar how to play the position? Put it this way – if Yogi Berra could play the position in his later years without hurting the team and still contribute mightily offensively, a player as young and athletic as Andujar can’t do the same?
What we are hearing, though, is clamors about Nolan Arenado, who according to reports is tired of losing with the Colorado Rockies. He’ll be a free agent next year unless the Rockies seek to trade him to get something back for him, instead of losing Arenado all together.
Just a glance at his numbers over the last four seasons and you’ll know why he’s the premier position player coming up in the Class of 2020 free agents. An All-Star each of those four years, Arenado has also finished in the Top 5 in the MVP voting three times.
An Iron Man, he has not played few than 156 games since 2014, and he led the National League in home runs and runs batted in twice over the same four-year span. Case closed – this is the guy the Yankees want to spend their money on.
The best of both worlds is to have Miguel Andujar and Nolan Arenado on the same Yankees team. Brian Cashman has overcome greater odds than this in performing the magic we have grown accustomed to in the recent past.
Trust me, put these two together in the Yankees lineup for the next five years, and then make a comparison of stats on both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, and how they have fared with their bloated salaries – and then – we’ll talk again.