Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Judge Watch Continues...


Aaron Judge, MVP

Aaron Judge taking one pitch at a time...

Patiently waiting for Number 61. The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox for the second night in a row, another one-run decision, 5-4, but sadly, no homers from the Big Guy. I love how Aaron Judge no longer swings at those pitches out of the strike zone, but man, I wish he would connect with one of the few strikes he is thrown to escort it to the outfield bleachers. 

I think Albert Pujols did it right. He immediately followed his 699th home run last evening with the 700th of his illustrious career. His two home runs helped the St Louis Cardinals to take down MLB’s winningest 2022 team, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Albert’s former teammates. No waiting or letting the outside noise get into his head. I am not saying that Judge is letting the noise get to him, but it would be difficult for the normal human being when thousands upon thousands of people in the stands singularly want one thing, and nearly every question from the overwhelming New York media probes the topic. Judge is not a normal human being, and the home run will come, but until then, we wait. 

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP

Since Friday’s game was televised by Apple + and not the YES Network, I think it may have been justice the record tying home run did not occur on their watch. If the Yankees had lost, I may have felt differently but fortunately, Jose Trevino’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth helped the Yankees overcome the home runs allowed by Gerrit Cole to win the game. 

This afternoon’s game will be on YES, so Michael Kay will have the opportunity to make the call for Judge’s historic home run if it happens today. Kudos to Kay who apparently had the opportunity to call the Friday night for Apple+ by special arrangement, but he shut down the negotiations because he did not feel it was right for the broadcasters scheduled to call the game. Not trying to be a Michael Kay defender, but I saw so many social media posts this week blasting Kay for “crying” about not getting the Friday night game, yet listening to Kay this week, he never sulked. While he said that he would like to call the home run, he was against denying others the opportunity if YES was not televising the game. Kay handled himself professionally through the week, and hopefully, he will be rewarded today. Sunday night’s game, the series finale with the Red Sox, will be on ESPN so Kay would be limited to a discussion of the game on his KayRod Cast.   

Michael Kay

Aaron Judge, we love you and hope today is your day. Whether it comes today or not, we are thankful, we are grateful you are a New York Yankee. Please never let it end.

The Miguel Andújar Story concludes. Well, at least with the New York Yankees. In a bit of a surprise this week, the Yankees designated Andújar for assignment to make way for reliever Zack Britton. There was some chatter last night that the Yankees are talking with the Kansas City Royals about a potential trade. If it happens, the return will not be much. No trades can be made involving 40-man roster talent, but Andújar was never going to bring that level of return. It will most likely be an obscure Single A player with some potential. With no trade, he will be released.

Miguel Andujar / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP

Regardless, Andújar’s time with the Yankees was over. If he was not DFA’d this week, it would have happened after season’s end. 2018 was a fun year. His forty-seven doubles and twenty-seven home runs would have secured AL Rookie of the Year if not for the supremely talented Shohei Ohtani. He persevered through injury, and was forced to learn the outfield, but always seemingly had a smile on his face. I know frustration led to his trade demand earlier in the season, but he was a good company man for the majority of his time in the Yankees organization. I knew it was time for the parties to separate. I wish Andújar the best. I hope he can reach the potential he once held with his next organization. Thanks, Miggy, and best wishes for a successful continued career in Major League Baseball.

As one who was not immediately in favor of the Harrison Bader trade, I am glad he is a Yankee. The price was high, and the wait was long, but Harrison Bader is the guy you never knew you needed until he was on your team. His energy level alone elevates the Yankees clubhouse. In four games, he has four hits in thirteen at-bats, good for six runs batted in. A stolen base. An extra base hit. But none of these stats tell how invaluable he has been in games. We knew he was a premier defender, yet I think many have been surprised at the strength of his arm.

Harrison Bader / Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post

He has an infectious, winning attitude, and it has not taken long to realize that GM Brian Cashman may have known what he was doing on August 2nd when he dealt Jordan Montgomery to St Louis. I know you can never have too much pitching, but Bader shows you can never have too much quality in center field. Aaron Hicks was instrumental in last night’s victory, but I am excited that the future of Yankees center field resides with Bader. The Yankees should try to move Hicks in the off-season and get out from under as much money remaining on Hicks’ contract as they can. I really hope the Yankees can sign Andrew Benintendi to a new contract so that Hicks will be expendable. Oswaldo Cabrera has earned the right to be the super-sub and has played tremendously in the outfield for a guy who never played there. If he is not tossed out this winter, Estevan Florial can be the fourth outfielder. If not him, there are plenty of guys around the league that would fit the bill. Like Andújar, Hicks’ time with the Yankees has reached its end. It seems a virtual certainty that he will be moved after the season. 

Regardless of what happens this season, Harrison Bader will open as the starting centerfielder for the New York Yankees in 2023. I would say the position is in good hands…and feet. The Yankees need to get the local kid from Bronxville a ring.

Sadly, no DJ LeMahieu anytime soon. It was reported that LeMahieu is a little better with the issue on his right foot between the big and second toes but is not ready for game action. With season’s end rapidly approaching, there will be no time for LeMahieu to ramp up activities. It will be all or nothing when he returns, and it does not sound like he would be effective if he tried to play today. I hope foot heals more quicky in the next couple of weeks than it has the last few weeks. The Yankees need an effective LeMahieu in the lineup for an extended run in October. 

While he does not think it will require surgery, LeMahieu believes it truly will not be healed until he can have offseason rest. So, the question is whether the pain can be reduced to the point it does not impact the quality of an at-bat. Wishing happy healing thoughts for LeMahieu, Matt Carpenter, and Andrew Benintendi.

Lastly, I am tired of Gerrit Cole’s home runs. That’s it. I have nothing else to add to that thought. I wish Cole would get out of his own head, and pitch to the talent that resides in his arm. Just when you think he is pitching great, he serves a gopher ball to wipe out the good. I hope this is not a prelude to October.    

Happy 61st Home Run Day…I hope!

Roger Maris

As always, Go Yankees!