Mar 4, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Brendan Ryan (17) throws the ball to first for an out during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bronx is Boiling

Greetings from Las Vegas, Yankees fans. As I start yet another day on perusing the MLB props and daily lines, I, of course, give a quick look over of the Yankees numbers and odds. Thanks to CC Sabathia and the Brewers on Saturday, I was quickly reminded why betting on your favorite team is just about the least fun you can have.

I know, CC had yet another bad outing. He couldn’t even manage to go six innings and also let up three bombs, including back-to-backers. But, let’s not forget what got CC into his jam in the first place. The Bronx is Boiling, and I need to blow some steam.


I never understood it. Ozzie Smith was the only player I can remember in recent history that merited not just being on the field, but starting ball games for a team without much of a bat. The Wizard of Oz was never heralded for his bat, but that glove and his leadership kept him out there everyday. The difference between Smith and other pop-less wonders was that his glove kept him in games which gave his bat the chance to come through in the most opportune moments. It doesn’t always work out that way.

It’s not so much Brendan Ryan I’m mad at, per say. It’s this whole “if you can field, you can start in the MLB,” stance. It happens with catchers all the time, but at the hot corner and middle infield, players who can’t hit worth a lick and have a magical glove somehow find their way into everyday lineups.

If you don’t know what I am referring to it is  Ryan’s return from the DL. Ryan is an amazing fielding shortstop who the Yankees traded for at the end of last season after the Eduardo Nunez experiment was officially deemed a failure.

Ryan, over an eight year career, also has a .237 batting average with a whopping 19 home runs. But most people are enamored by his .978 career fielding percentage.

What I see, and again, it’s not just with Ryan, but all players who have only one of the “five tools” of a great baseball player are role players. They shouldn’t be starting games. The main reason is that they don’t possess the skills to atone for their errors. This is what happened Saturday.

There is no secret that Sabathia is struggling. When he comes out of the gate pitching half way decently, your job as a fielder is to make sure you get him outs and don’t deplete the bullpen. That didn’t happen in the third inning of Saturday’s game.

With two out, Ryan booted a ground ball and allowed Brewers shortstop Jean Segura to reach first base. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who should have been suiting up to return to the field as catcher, instead gets an at bat and blasts a 2-run home run. That was followed by an Aramis Ramirez solo shot, whom again should not even been at the plate. The game was essentially over right there.

Now, again, everyone makes mistakes. It is part of the game. But let’s say it was Mark Teixeira who booted that same ball. What Teixeira has shown, as one of the elite fielding first baseman in the game, is that should he make an error, his power bat can atone for it by blasting home runs and driving in runs. If Ryan hits a double his slugging percentage probably increases at an infinite rate.

I like Ryan and I want him to stay on the Yankees. He is perfect for late inning substitutions for our aging Captain. But all this talk of replacing Derek Jeter the second Ryan came off the DL was insane. Just keep this one statistic in mind. While Ryan has impressively maintained a .978 fielding percentage over his eight year career,  Jeter has maintained a .976 percentage over his 20-year career.

Has Jeter lost a step? Probably. Does the left side of the infield lose a little bit of range when Jeter is in there? Sure. But, when  Jeter comes to bat with the game on the line in the ninth, we Yankees fans still think we have a chance.

That’s how it was with Ozzie Smith.

That isn’t how it is with the one-tool Jose Molina’s and Ryan’s of the baseball world. Imagine if you did your job 20 percent well? You wouldn’t even have a job.

It’s not the end of the world with Ryan, but it will happen again.

The Yankees also have Yangervis Solarte and then Zelous Wheeler in the minors that are making a strong case to be an everyday short stop, but the Yankees seem hesitant to put them there. Jeter is certainly diminishing, but he is 40-years old coming off of a major injury, the expectations could not have been realistically through the roof. I’m just not sure that someone who’s lone attribute is his glove is the answer to replacing a legend.

Tags: Brendan Ryan New York Yankees

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