The Yankees keep on winning series, and I keep on being happy as a result of it. I wanted the Yankees to go at worst 3-3 against the Rays between the three games this past weekend and the three games this coming weekend, and to already be 2-1 with the home series still to be played is everything any Yankees fan could ask for. With four games against the Orioles and then the three against the Rays, all at home this, this week, by next week’s Monday Mail, the Yankees could and should be in first place in the AL East.
I got back from my weekend in Tampa and Tropicana Field late last night, so it’s an abbreviated Monday Mail this week.
This week’s questions and comment are about Gio Urshela being the starting third baseman, the resurgence of Tommy Kahnle and the back injury of Aaron Hicks.
Gio Urshela needs to play third base. He’s the best fielder on the Yankees and knocking the crap out of the ball. – Chris
Miguel Andujar is making it easy for Aaron Boone to keep penciling in Gio Urshela as his starting third baseman. Andujar is now down to .088/.114/.203 in nine games and 35 plate appearances since returning from the injured list, and in only two of those games did he play third base, and not play it well.
Urshela, on the other hand, continues to both hit and play outstanding defense, batting .341/.396/.505 this season. He only went 3 for 12 over the weekend in Tampa, but he made those hits count, driving in two runs in Friday’s 4-3 win and broke up Sunday’s game with a two-run double.
As the Yankees get healthier, some very hard decisions are going to have to be made between both roster spots and lineup spots, and unless Andujar turns it around significantly at the plate, it will be impossible to start him at third over Urshela or make him the designated hitter with the other more proven bats on the roster. I believe in Andujar and believe he will turn it around and return to his 2018 self, but he better start doing do very soon.
Tommy Kahnle was drinking five Red Bulls a day. I’m assuming making him nervous or jittery and not making pitches. He looks right now. – AJ
I’m not sure how much Red Bull truly impacted Tommy Kahnle, but it’s definitely not a good look for the energy drink given how different he has pitched without it in his body.
Kahnle has now appeared in 18 games this season and has allowed earned runs in one of them (April 10 at Houston). In his last 14 games and 12 innings, he has given up three hits, while striking out 16 and walking two. The velocity and strikeout numbers might be down from his dominant 2017 year, but 2019 Tommy Kahnle is every bit as good, if not better than 2017 Tommy Kahnle.
Here is my updated Yankees Bullpen Level of Trust (1-10 scale), which was last updated on May 2.
Dellin Betances 9.1
Aroldis Chapman 8.4
Adam Ottavino 8.2
Tommy Kahnle 7.9
Zack Britton 7.1
Luis Cessa 3.1
Chad Green 3.0
Jonathan Holder 2.1
Hicks is good for 120 games a year, if that. He fleeced the Yankees in his contract extension, a contract not even an injury-prone cupcake like Hicks is worthy of. I’ll lay 20-to-1 odds he doesn’t play out this contract on the Yankees. – Mark
Tonight is supposed to be the return of Aaron Hicks to the lineup. I will actually believe he’s returning when I see him standing on the field, in uniform, during the game.
Hicks hurt his back on February 27 on a 35-minute bus ride from Tampa to Lakeland in spring training. That was 75 days ago. He was originally supposed to return for the first game of the second series of the season on Apri 1, which was now 43 days ago. This whole back injury situation has been ridiculous, but hopefully it’s finally over.
As for his contract, it’s essentially a steal for the Yankees to pay a center fielder $10 million per year for seven years. It’s not ideal that six of those years will be when he is 30 or older, which is very similar to the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, but Ellsbury was given $153 million, and Hicks will receive half of that. Given Hicks’ injury issues throughout his entire career and 20s, I have no idea how anyone can think he will somehow be less injury-prone on the other side of 30 and out of his prime, so I agree I don’t think he will finish out his contract as a Yankee. But at that rate, if the Yankees have to eat any or even all of it, it’s still a bargain.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!