Only when the Yankees and Aaron Boone feel good in knowing they have several choices in determining their postseason roster, fate intervenes…
By now, Yankees manager Aaron Boone is used to it. The lineup he posts today may or not be the lineup that is available tomorrow. Players come and go in the clubhouse as the team’s Uber bill soared upward via the Scranton-Bronx shuttle throughout the season. Rehab reports are first and foremost in Boone’s daily briefings with the media. So what the big deal about one more injury?
The timing and nature of the player’s ability is a big deal. Mike Tauchman forged his way into the Yankees lineup with a whisper.
Tauchman arrived at the end of Spring Training in a little-noticed trade engineered by Brian Cashman with the Colorado Rockies. In the equivalent of a half season’s play, he batted .277 with thirteen home runs and 47 RBI.
Yesterday, as most fans know, Tauchman was diagnosed with a Grade 2 calf strain. This eliminates him from all postseason play.
Yankees: Eeny, Meeny, Minie, Mo
While the debate has raged about Giancarlo Stanton‘s status with the club, and whether or not the Yankees are a better team with him on the field, the controversy is now moot. The Yankees need Giancarlo Stanton for the postseason.
Moreover, that lazy and prolonged rehab extended to Stanton by the Yankees must now be accelerated. At-bats and plenty of them for Stanton against live major league pitching are no longer a luxury – they’re a necessity.
If the Yankees had a cheerleading squad, the rah-rah would be like the old high school chant, “Stanton, Stanton, he’s our man – if he can’t do it, Maybin can. Maybin, Maybin, he’s our man. If he can’t do it, Frazier can”. Well, you get the drift.
From Feast To Famine
From feast to borderline famine, that’s pretty much the way it’ll go for the Yankees during the final three weeks of the season as the team decides on the 25 players who will accompany them to the postseason.
Cameron Maybin, as indicated by Boone’s lineup choices over the last two games, is the Yankee’s first choice to replace Tauchman in left field. Maybin is nursing an annoying wrist injury that won’t go away.
Aaron Hicks is a no-show again, so that leaves Clint Frazier as the next-in-line option. Frazier, a recent call-up when rosters expanded needs to step it up though to something more like his offense numbers at the beginning of the year.
But then, even if Frazier does that, there’s still the question of his defensive liabilities to consider.
As a last resort, Tyler Wade is taking practice fly balls in the outfield. Usually an infielder, Wade has played the outfield in six games for the Yankees this season in limited duty. He seemed to take a liking to it though as he’s batted .308 during those games.
Finally, as a last – last option, the Yankees have Breyvic Valera. In Valera’s brief major league career, he has played a total of 2.1 innings in the outfield. Nevertheless, Boone has him shagging balls in the outfield during pregame warmups.
The Magic Is Needed One More Time
Options? Yes, but are they better than Mike Tauchman? Giancarlo Stanton can be, but will he have the time to regain his timing – if he ever gets healthy enough to play.
Maybin and Frazier have a ton of motivation to succeed. Frazier, in particular, has had his ups and downs with the Yankees. Much of which has been self-inflicted by his immature behavior at times.
Similarly, Maybin is in the throes of trying to resurrect his major league career. Given an opportunity by the Yankees, Maybin is grateful, but the job is incomplete.
While it’s not panic time for Boone and the Yankees, the clock is ticking down to the end of the regular season. The calling card of this Yankees team has been to “pick a name,” put him in the lineup – and voila – the player responds to the need.
One more time. Is that too much to ask? We’ll know very soon…