These guys need a boost.
“I think the off day [Monday] is coming at a good time,” Brett Gardner said Sunday, after his Yankees suffered a walk-off, 4-3 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, their fifth loss in seven tries. “We’ve kind of had a crazy schedule. It’ll be good to take a step back and look at some video and reboot and get back after it on Tuesday.”
These guys need a fresh face.
“Overall, we just need to be better collectively as a unit,” Gardner said of the Yankees’ offense.
These guys need Clint Frazier.
OK, I plead guilty to being overdramatic. These Yankees (10-6) — who still lead the American League East by two games over the Rays (8-8) during a season when winning the division won’t bring much reward thanks to the expanded playoff structure — hardly are in free-fall. Even Sunday’s gut-punch loss brought with it some notable good news with the revival of James Paxton, who dominated through six innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 11, before Aaron Boone pushed his luck with the southpaw and paid for it in the seventh.
As Gardner referenced, however, the Yankees’ ultra-deep offensive core has hit a mild funk. The aforementioned “crazy schedule” saw those seven games get played during these past five days, and only twice did they exceed their average runs per game of 4.9. They lost one of their top performers Saturday when the perpetually fragile Giancarlo Stanton strained his left hamstring, going on the injured list Sunday.
And Frazier brings, if nothing else, energy as well as the potential to go on a roll. After a strong spring training 1.0 that saw him in position to be an outfield regular with Stanton and Aaron Judge both injured, he looked strong in spring training 2.0, as well, making the Opening Day roster only to get sent to the alternate site during the first weekend thanks to the healing of Judge and Stanton (temporary, in his case) creating a surplus of bats.
Stanton is out, though, and Miguel Andujar is down, optioned to the alternate site on Thursday after he began the season a meager 1-for-14. The Yankees made a telling statement Sunday by replacing Stanton with infielder Thairo Estrada rather than Andujar, both men with the club as part of the taxi squad. As per the rules surrounding minor-league options, Andujar must spend 10 days at the alternate site unless he fills the spot of an injured player. So while he could have been tabbed for Stanton, he can’t for Estrada, whose slot Boone said Sunday would be reassessed moving forward.
It therefore makes sense to replace the bat Stanton with the bat Frazier, who wasn’t on the taxi squad; even if the 25-year-old doesn’t start against a right-handed starting pitcher (the Braves will go with righty Touki Toussaint in the Yankees’ next game, Tuesday in The Bronx), he can serve as a bench weapon against lefty relievers. Shoot, if the Yankees’ starting pitching doesn’t round into shape as well as they hope by the Aug. 31 trade deadline, Frazier could both potentially help the Yankees and showcase himself as a trade chip for a pitcher.
Boone downplayed any concerns he held about his offense. Said the manager: “You know when you come here and play these guys that runs are going to be at a premium. They’re very good at run prevention. They do a really good job at that. They have a lot of quality arms. They match up really well. So they make it difficult. I think it’s a little bit of that.
“We still came in here and scored enough to be able to win some games. … I feel like we should be in a good spot here moving forward with where our guys are.”
They should be, and Frazier can make it even better. The firebrand seems to have learned from past pinstriped mistakes, and he even wore a mask during his at-bats in camp, a symbol we could use against the frighteningly large anti-science contingent out there.
Let’s see how the Yankees cope with their first 2020 moment of adversity. Let’s see if Frazier can help them deal with it. The rewards clearly outweigh the risks.
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