Yankees: Why is Clint Frazier getting disrespected more than Jay Bruce?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Brett Gardner #11 and Clint Frazier #77 of the New York Yankees in action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Angels 9-1 to clinch the American League East division. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Brett Gardner #11 and Clint Frazier #77 of the New York Yankees in action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Angels 9-1 to clinch the American League East division. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Brett Gardner is a good, solid baseball player, one the Yankees certainly should’ve brought back for a minuscule salary for one more go ’round.

We knew the second the contract was signed, though, that we’d eventually grow frustrated with the deprioritizing of Clint Frazier in Gardner’s favor at some point during this campaign.

We just had no idea it would be Week 2.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. This shouldn’t be a comparison between Frazier and Gardner, who’s been a rock-steady known quantity in a tumultuous start to the season. It should be a comparison between Frazier and the completely ineffective Jay Bruce, who’s gotten a much longer rope thus far despite the fact he’ll be gone by May.

Through 12 team games, Frazier has played in nine, and his reps have shrunk as his first slump of the year has grown. The “starting left fielder” opened the year 5-for-12 and played the team’s first four games before dipping into an 0-for-15 stretch over his next four games played (missing games eight and nine of the season, as well as No. 12).

Bruce? He leads in at-bats 34 to 30, despite being one of the worst-performing Yankees of the modern era. And in Game 12, needing a win on getaway day, he batted sixth, struck out twice, grounded into a double play and lined into a double play. It was a tour de force of terrible, and yet…he played all nine innings without a second thought.

Why is Clint Frazier losing at-bats to Jay Bruce AND Brett Gardner with the Yankees?

It’s completely incomprehensible that Frazier would be the “starting left fielder,” only to have his playing time restricted and almost dissolved after a difficult four-game stretch. And yet here we are, in a world where the offense is scuffling and the ceiling is the roof for Jay Bruce at-bats.

Players should be allowed to struggle; after all, basically everyone else in the order has been afforded that leeway. So why the restrictions on Frazier?

The right move is not for the Yankees to “sell high” and explore some kind of trade, just a few weeks after declaring Frazier had earned his shot to start in a special 2020 (after they also benched him for a hot Gardner in the postseason). For one thing, they would actually be selling…quite low, considering Frazier is an obvious All-Star who’s being treated like Adam Frazier.

But for another, there’s no pitcher on the market right now worth Frazier, the Yankees have enough rotation spots already committed to enough experiments, and (say it clearly) the team needs the offense Frazier can provide.

Gardner is not a long-term solution in left, and prospects like Jasson Dominguez (and even Estevan Florial, who’s had a bit of recent helium) aren’t near ready to step into a starring role. So why does it feel like Frazier’s Yankees future has already been decided for him, even after a breakout, Gold Glove-nominated season?

The way to “get him right” and spark a run is not to bench him after a four-game streak of questionable at-bats. And it’s certainly not helpful to be more tied to Bruce than your homegrown left fielder.