LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Beat Red Sox, Show Patience With Aaron Judge

Friday, September 1, 2017

Yankees Beat Red Sox, Show Patience With Aaron Judge

Prior to Thursday night's game with the Red Sox, I saw a headline on my phone which said "BREAKING NEWS: Judge Moved Down in the Order."

It made me think of a time way back in 1991 when the Yankees were visiting the brand new Comiskey Park in Chicago and I was there. I remember walking on 35th Street which divided the old Comiskey, which was in demolition mode and the new Comiskey, which for some reason is called  Guaranteed Rate Field these days.

The part of the old stadium which was still standing was the left field stands, and I remember thinking of the past and how many times I saw the Yankees play there. The place in the left field upper deck, where I saw my first Yankees game was still there, although awaiting its wrecking ball doom. Unlike my first Yankees game at Old Comiskey, which was in 1963, the 1991 Yankees were in the early stages of rebuilding, and not very good.

The player who caught my attention that day in 1991 was a young outfielder named Bernie Williams. Williams was blocked in center field by the Yankees best player Roberto Kelly, but there was talk of moving Kelly to left field to make room for Bernie Williams. That is precisely what happened.

Bernie Williams was not all that great a player that 1991 season. But he was in the Big Leagues because enough of the Yankees brass saw something that made them think Bernie would improve his game. And improve Williams did. So much to the point the Yankees traded Kelly a year later and brought in RF Paul O'Neill, because Gene Michael said the Yankees were "too right handed."

And Bernie's career as the Yankees CF  was about to take off.

So why all the Bernie nostalgia? Because of all the concern Aaron Judge's second half slump has brought. The Yankees have adjusted the batting order all season. Dropping Judge to sixth shouldn't be all that big of a deal.  To me it is simple when recalling  a young Bernie Williams. Bernie arrived, struggled for a bit and got better. A whole lot better. Judge has traveled a slightly different path. He arrived at the end of last season and struggled, perhaps more than Bernie ever did. Then in 2017 Judge took off in a way Bernie never did. Triple Crown, MVP and Rookie of the Year we were hearing at mid season. Judge then hit a wall after the All Star Break.

What happened has not been totally revealed. Maybe a shoulder injury suggested by all of the daily post game icings? Or maybe it is that Judge is needing to adjust to pitchers who adjusted to him? Or maybe Judge hampered his swing while participating in the Home Run Derby? The last one is my favorite, more for the absurdity than the likelihood.

The answer is we don't know what happened to Judge. Aaron Judge is not someone to make excuses. He knows he needs to get better, as a ballplayer and perhaps physically. Getting better is what Bernie Williams did. Now it's Aaron Judge's turn. That is the simple point. Young players who struggle can get better. The same goes for Gary Sanchez and his work behind the plate. I'm thinking there is too much hoopla surrounding the young players when they struggle. Show some patience. Look how it worked for Bernie Williams. 

Now to the game which the Yankees won 6-2. CC Sabathia fought off a little control issues (5 walks) but overall threw a solid six innings allowing one run. Sanchez found the range for his 28th home run. Greg Bird must be feeling better than he has all season, with two hits including his third home run and 3 RBIs. Everybody had at least one hit except for Judge who walked twice. Despite the struggles, Aaron Judge still has a .413 on base percentage, by far the best on the team. If nothing else, Judge is still a front-runner for Rookie of the Year.

With the win the Yankees cut into the Red Sox lead which is now 4.5 games. Winning this series might be imperative if the Yankees want to catch Boston and not settle for a wild card play in game. These are the final games between the Yankees and Red Sox this season. Could the Yankees cut the lead to 1 1/2 games? A Yankees sweep will be necessary. Just three more wins this weekend.

We can only hope.

As you read this it is now September. Rosters will expand today, though expect the Yankees to do it in stages. Who comes up tonight? The Yankees just traded for a third string catcher,  Erik Kratz from Cleveland. Kratz will be a replacement for Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine, assuming their suspensions are upheld. The Yankees usually carry three catchers in September, so Kratz appears to be the man for that role.

Expect the Yankees to add some pitching depth and maybe Miguel Andujar gets a call right away. Seems only fair that Andujar gets an early call given he went 3 for 4 in his debut, only to be returned to the minors the next day.  Matt Holliday might finally return from the disabled list and Tyler Austin might also get the call. AAA Scranton will be in the playoffs, so some players could stay until the end of their post season which begins next week. 

As the clock was about to strike midnight ushering in September, the Astros traded for Justin Verlander from the Tigers. So why aren't the Yankees in on such moves? All I can say is their time will come.

All things considered, our patience will be rewarded in due time.

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