Monday, May 18, 2015

Too Early To Judge

At my local post office there's this one clerk who I chat regularly about baseball/Yankees/baseball cards about. For privacy's sake I'll call them S.

S grew up collecting baseball cards of their favorite Yankees players like Mantle, Ford and Maris. So as you can imagine they're an elder statesman. Most of the time we talk about flavor of the week topics (mainly garbage the New York media puts out) like whether or not the Steinbrenners are going to sell the Yankees.

S knows that I'm a big fan of minor league baseball. So they sometimes ask me how the future Yankees are doing down on the farm. The guy they're really interested in the prospect every Yankees fan is obsessed with, Luis Torrens Aaron Judge.

The supplemental first rounder's work so far has been nothing short of astounding. He pretty much demolished the Florida State League and is continuing to terrorize the Eastern League.

His performance has been so great that Yankees fan are clamoring for the front office to call him up.

Now S asked me the other day why the Yankees don't call up Judge. I had a few ideas and most of them had to do with money.

The biggest reason is Carlos Beltran. Regardless of Beltran's performance, his contract guarantees that he'll continue to be in the lineup. That's not changing until the Yankees find someone dumb enough to take both Beltran and his salary.

Also, keep in mind that these are the Yankees who are trying to start spending money wisely (sort of) and figure Judge to be a huge part of their future. For all we know when Judge is actually ready the Yankees could keep in the minors for two weeks for that extra year of arbitration (ala Kris Bryant) or a little longer for super-two status (ala Wil Myers).

The more important reason is Judge himself. Mike Axisa, over at River Ave Blues, was asked when the Yankees'll promote Judge to triple-A (as of this post he's currently in double-A). Axisa brought up an excellent point that the league needs to adjust to Judge so that Judge can show that he can adjust to league that adjusted to him. If he can do so at double-A and then triple-A (which would theoretically put his ETA sometime in 2016 at the earliest) he'll probably be ready.

At any rate, it's never a good idea to promote a prospect when they're not ready for the big leagues yet. And although Judge's numbers may prove otherwise, I haven't heard too many scouts using the phrase "big league ready" to describe Judge yet.

I suppose it's also worth mentioning that Judge isn't exactly the first outfield option the Yankees have should they seek some help in-house. The Yankees still have Ramon Flores and Tyler Austin ahead of him on the depth chart at right field. Although Austin's off to a slow start, Flores has been doing fairly well at triple-A. Or at least enough so that in the event of an emergency Flores will be called up instead of Judge.

GIF courtesy of GIPHY

Back to Judge himself though, a lot of people seem to have misconceptions about what exactly Judge will be. That's not all that surprising since baseball fans in general are horrible at having realistic expectations, but it certainly doesn't help that there's this ongoing narrative that Aaron Judge is going to be Giancarlo Stanton.

The reality is that Judge is not going to be Giancarlo Stanton, no matter how much anybody wants him to be. BTW, I'd totally love it if Judge became Stanton even if I know it's not possible. Aaron Judge is going to be Aaron Judge, period.

GIF courtesy of Pinstripe Alley

And who is Judge going to be? It's too early to tell but a scout told The New York Post that they see him as a middle of the order threat who'll hit in the .250's with 25 HRs. That's not Giancarlo Stanton but I'd still take that and consider it a reasonable expectation for Judge.

Of course the future is not set in stone and Judge could very well exceed that ceiling or he could fall short and be even worse.

Currently he's absolutely destroying double-A putting up (as of this draft) a 151 wRC+. Some people are worried about his strikeouts but I'm not as worried considering that pitchers have just started to pitch differently to him, and because he still has a .373 BABIP (as of this draft) which is absolutely great. If he struggles to make adjustments and goes into a slump near the end of the year well into next year, that is when you worry. Both stats courtesy of Fangraphs BTW.

So to everybody wondering why Judge isn't up yet, I say slow down. He's not ready for the big leagues yet and there's no need to screw him up by forcing his way up (the Yankees did that a lot in the 00's). He'll come when he's ready, and there should be a boatload of puns ready at everybody's disposal when that happens.

GIF courtesy of Pinstripe Alley

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. Great job on the post. I would hope they take it slow as I'd bet the whole rushing thing because of fans leaning on the front office has ruined many a baseball player

    1. Thanks. And yeah I hope so to. Although I'm not worried considering how the Yankees don't really care what fans think (which is a good thing IMO).

  2. What a lot of fans overlook is the idea of players needing to show they have a level *mastered* and not just having a hot month somewhere.

    1. I agree. Although the tricky part of prospecting is that many who have mastered and owned triple-A can't do squat in the big leagues.

  3. I really hope they tinker with the CBA regarding the Super II date and the extra year of service time issue. I think a player should stay in the minors until they are ready, regardless of contract issues. Kris Bryant in my opinion should have had a cup of coffee last September.

    I hope the Yankees do right by Judge and his development. He sounds like a beast!

    1. Sadly I feel like more minor leaguers will have to suffer so minor leaguers on the cusp of reaching the majors won't be stuck in limbo (an international draft perhaps?).

      Judge is a beast right not, but even if he turns out to be Desmond Jennings (just average) in the majors I'd consider that a huge success.

  4. He's a very exciting prospect. I definitely don't want to see him until he's ready. Sadly, he could probably produce at the same level as Beltran right now, but that doesn't mean he should be rushed.

    I know that Flores is probably first in line as an outfielder, but I'd love to see Slade. I know he's not on the 40-man, but he's had a very good start (although cooling as of late). He doesn't have a ton of experience at the high levels due to his injuries, but I'd get whatever out of him that they possibly can while he's healthy.

    1. I like Slade as well but he's also one of the prospects who has to prove that he is what his strong start says he is. Maybe under really extreme circumstances the Yankees'll bring him up, but the first guy up is probably going to be the guy who's going to meet your (relatively low or not really high) expectations.