The baseball season is a marathon, but don’t tell that to New York Yankees fans, who live and die by every pitch regardless of the scenario. All that meant was the stakes would be a lot higher for an Opening Day series against the division-rival Boston Red Sox.
After an offseason ruined by a lockout and the Yankees’ front office making underwhelming moves (based on the fan base’s expectations), it’s no surprise every player was under a microscope when the year kicked off on Friday.
There are a number of players under a microscope, too, after poor performances and injured shortened campaigns the last few seasons, one of whom is Aaron Hicks. General manager Brian Cashman made things worse for the veteran after inexplicably signing him to a seven-year, $70 million contract extension before the 2019 season. Good for Hicks for making his money … but now the target will be on his back.
Yup … because when the organization has to “get creative” with personnel moves despite a number of roster holes and can’t just pay the appropriate players to fill the voids, those who are holding the payroll back with their salaries are the ones that draw the ire.
But now … now we’ve gone too far. Hicks, who’s admittedly been beyond frustrating and then kicked the 2022 season off by going 2-for-8 with two singles, three strikeouts and a double play with the bases loaded on Sunday night, has been unable to find a groove because of his elbow and wrist injuries the last few seasons.
That does NOT mean fans are allowed to start clamoring for Brett Gardner, who’s still a free agent. Fans from every corner swore they’d lose their minds if the team brought Gardner back this offseason … and now all of a sudden he’s needed because Hicks isn’t looking good right off the bat?
Yankees fans hate Aaron Hicks so much they’re willing to bring back Brett Gardner
We’re three games into the season! This entire team just went 5-for-21 with runners in scoring position and left 25 runners stranded in their SERIES WIN against the Boston Red Sox. Life is fine.
Sure, it’d be better if Hicks’ usual, ugly struggles weren’t on full display in the first few games, but he’s played in just 145 out of a possible 384 game since the start of 2019. He’s going to need more time. And if you want to blame anybody, please direct those laser pointers to the front office, who decided Hicks, after one uncharacteristic career season, was worth SEVEN more years in the Bronx.
It’s not like Hicks is eating at-bats near the top of the lineup like he did in 2020 and a short portion of 2021. The lineup is now balanced enough where Hicks can hit seventh and (hopefully) lengthen lineup as time goes on. But sadly, it’s going to take time due to the severity of his last few injuries and the fact he’s been away from the game for so long.
Nine plate appearances in, though, and Gardner’s return is long overdue. Where’s this same energy for the guy who put the Yankees’ future in jeopardy after rejecting a $30.5 million AAV contract and didn’t have a single meaningful hit in the opening series?
There’s always plenty of blame to go around. And nobody’s arguing Hicks doesn’t deserve any, but come on. You’d be screaming into the void after Gardner went 2-for-8 in nine meaningless plate appearances to kick off a season that has high expectations. That discourse lasted from April-August of last year.
Let’s save the lunacy for the third month of the season and beyond, shall we?