Greg Bird doesn’t make sense for the Yankees as a Mike Ford replacement … does he?
The Yankees are struggling to tread water 2020, in large part because the cadre of “Next Man Up” participants from 2019 not only haven’t lived up to their production from last season, but haven’t even been playing under the same set of rules.
2019 revelations like Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford are struggling in all aspects of the game, save an occasional patient at-bat by Tauchman that harkens back to last season’s sustained success. Neither player is handling middle-middle fastballs at the moment, let alone contributing the same isolated slugging they brought to the table in their breakout first season.
Ford, in particular, looks lost, lazily flipping fastballs to the opposite field at medium depth. As the Yankees escaped Baltimore with a pronounced limp, Ford possessed a remarkably meek slugging percentage of .282.
In addition to that mark, however, he did possess something else that could loom as all-important: minor-league options. If the Yankees want to make a desperation upgrade on Ford, they can do so by simply sending him down to the alternate site, and losing one of a few expendable 40-man roster participants (Ben Heller or, gulp, Erik Kratz).
So, in an ideal world, who would step in for Ford? Probably someone like Justin Smoak, only a few years removed from an All-Star 2017 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Would betting on a Smoak resurgence be enough to sacrifice a 40-man spot when the team wouldn’t even do so for Clarke Schmidt? Doubtful.
That throws cold water, unfortunately, on the most hilarious possibility imaginable, too.
The Texas Rangers DFA’d Greg Bird a few weeks ago, and he refused to report to the team’s Alternate Site, electing free agency himself. No, a reunion won’t happen. But in a different year, with a different need for pitching depth, would a team like the Yankees feel more compelled to swallow their pride and make that difficult phone call to Bird’s camp?
There’s no legitimate way this occurs. But isn’t it ironic that after two years of watching Bird regress and become a passive, patient hitter with very little sustained power, they finally cut bait, only to watch Mike Ford do largely the exact same thing in a shortened 2020?
All indications are Ford is underperforming his peripherals, with an expected wOBA about 100 points higher than his actual mark. Ground balls are up, though, and Ford’s opponents seem ready, shifting and slurping up his hard grounders to the right side.
Is there any way to import Bird? Not really. But the fact that Ford’s now wearing a Bird costume is all the more disappointing considering the genuine article is still wandering around on the outskirts of the baseball landscape without a team.
For goodness sakes, can’t Ford just step up and get this unfortunate thought out of our collective brains?