Don’t Play Around, Solidify The Outfield
Regardless of when Jacoby Ellsbury comes back, Aaron Hicks should be the Yankees everyday center fielder. From day one, Joe Girardi has professed a belief in the young man who came over to the team in a trade with Minnesota Twins two years ago.
He’s proving his value to the team and, at the same time, proving that writers like myself can be very wrong when judging talent from afar.
Hicks has climbed the ladder from the loser in a Spring Training battle with Aaron Judge for the right field position. He is an outside chance for a reserve spot on this year’s American League All-Star team.
And despite a recent injury setback, Hicks sports a .306 batting average with a .413 on-base percentage, adding ten home runs and 36 RBI that hardly come near what Ellsbury has produced.
As with the case of Masahiro Tanaka, though, the question of money enters the picture and the Yankees need to justify, (not to us!), but to their stockholders as to how they can not play someone who is earning $20+ million this season.
Again, that’s Brian Cashman’s problem, and he needs to take that to Hal Steinbrenner with only one question. Hal, do you want to win this thing, or not? Because if you expect me to win it, I need your okay to field the best players I can every night.
None of this means dismissing Ellsbury as a vital part of the team. But it does require an adjustment that makes Ellsbury the fourth outfielder and not Hicks.
And as the dog days of summer reaches us, Ellsbury will still get plenty of at-bats as a replacement for the veteran, Brett Gardner, who has been playing all out and needs to watched closely and given adequate rest.
But a statement needs to be made the day that Ellsbury returns. And that statement will read on the lineup card Girardi posts that day with the name Aaron Hicks in there.