Monday, April 22, 2024

AV Can Hit Now, Too


The theme of this Yankee team, at least in its first month, has been improvement. You've seen improvement from a lot of the pitchers we thought were cooked, like Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes and Luis Gil, as well as people who struggled at the plate last year, like Oswaldo Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo. Just in the last few weeks you've seen Alex Verdugo begin to come into his own in the Bronx, and he's beginning to get the fan following he deserves. 

But most crucially, this season began with Anthony Volpe, who showed his fielding prowess last season without any offensive production, hitting like he should have been all along. I forget exactly how he conditioned himself but he fixed his swing and is hitting like a major leaguer, with a .288 average, 9 RBIs, 2 homers, 23 hits and 6 steals. Add that to continued success as a fielder and Volpe is looking like a well-rounded, versatile player. This is the guy who tore up the minors a few years ago and got prospectors really excited. To see him become one of the most crucial pieces of this team, in multiple senses, is really satisfying. It's also nice that this is happening underneath some of the already-proven successes. Like, this is a team with Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and Gerrit Cole, and now in addition we have a top tier shortstop with killer contact numbers. It's a nice perk, I'll give ya that. Considering two players headed to the majors in the next year or so, it's nice that the farm system is delivering massive wins again.

The Yankees have been able to pull themselves out of some tight spaces earlier incarnations couldn't have imagined. The Yanks-Rays game the other day was tight all the way through, but Verdugo and Trevino clobbered the Rays' bullpen on 2 outs and were able to squeeze out of it. It's also been helpful having Clay Holmes in the ninth, as his league-leading 8 saves is a very interesting staff. Yes, they're not all going to be blowouts, but you'd think that Holmes wouldn't be the deciding factor as much as he is. Again, we'll see what happens once Judge and Rizzo really heat up, but it's definitely worth nothing. 

There have been some worrying details, most notably the fact that we couldn't get things going earlier today against the notoriously-bad Oakland A's. On one hand, yes, you try hitting Mason Miller, but J.P. Sears shouldn't be enough to keep people like Soto and Volpe at bay. I'm also not wild about the whole Boone thing. We're really past 'the emperor has no clothes' territory with this umping shit, and I'm tired of people passing it off as nothing. Boone isn't afraid to hold back, and if that makes him the enemy of the umpiring community, then fine. But it doesn't make them any more correct. The bullpen also worries me, they're not as strong as they were at season's open, and losing both Loiasiga and Nick Burdi is a bit distressing, but Victor Gonzalez, Ian Hamilton and Rob Marinaccio have continued to deliver great work. 

The Yankees have a scorching couple weeks without much of a break, and will have to play the Brewers, Orioles and Tigers, after 3 more from the A's. If they're still in 1st by the end of it I'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Coming Tomorrow- A man whose beard is always bushy, whose hair is always damp, and whose average is always higher than yours.

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