We simply can’t be smarter than the New York Yankees’ management here.
We simply cannot be wiser than the New York Yankees’ analytics group. That’s just impossible.
But if those in charge of the Yankees — whose jobs depend on the Yankees not missing pitch after pitch middle-middle and allowing backbreaker after backbreaker in tight games — can’t see what we see, then it might be over.
Nearly every one of the Yankees’ 15 games so far this season has been a “Who blinks first?” showdown with another struggling AL East team (both the Rays and Blue Jays have been terr-i-ble) in each instance, the Yankees have blinked powerfully, again and again.
It’s almost hopeless, truly. But it doesn’t have to be.
The Baseball Gods have gifted the Yankees with an off day Monday. A day away from the scorn of the rest of the baseball world. A day away from everything that’s happened between the lines. From the team-wide slump. From the Rays game-winners. From the left-field tire fire. Everything.
The Bronx Bombers’ staff has one (final?) golden chance to maximize their current roster, which is somehow both completely healthy and still the league’s worst offense. If they fail to do so, their golden chance to capture a World Series with no other AL team in their path (we were told!) may be over by May 1.
The Yankees must make these three obvious changes immediately.
3. Move Aaron Hicks From the Three-Hole
We’ve asked nicely. Now we’re insisting.
Aaron Hicks, at his peak, is a power-hitting speed combo who roams center field spectacularly. Currently, he is not at his peak.
Plenty of real-world issues appear to be clouding his head, and we have all the sympathy in the world for what he’s made it fairly clear he’s dealing with. So why have the Yankees ratcheted up the pressure on him by repeatedly batting him third in the order, where he’s never prospered?
With the bases loaded, Hicks is a career .137 hitter in 51 at-bats. In the three-hole, he is a .227 hitter with a .343 OBP, and has ripped 15 homers in 451 PAs.
From the sixth spot? .282/.379/.475.
Sporting a supposedly “stacked” offense, how can the Yankees not figure out how to play to their own team’s strengths? Hicks is battling something both at the plate and in the field. He’s a high-OBP guy whose best skill is his discipline, but who’s somehow scuffled leading off over the course of his career.
Bat him sixth. Don’t look back. Why put him in a position to fail?