Alex Rodriguez has been bad this year, which is a really important reason the Yankees are releasing him on Friday. As bad as A-Rod has been, though, do you know who has been worse? Aaron Hicks. And yet we see him every day and have to deal with Joe Girardi coming to his defense. Get ready, though, because Hicks isn’t going away any time soon.
A former top prospect, Aaron Hicks was acquired to face lefties off the bench. He was supposed to be an All-Star, but the Yankees would have settled for a younger, more athletic Chris Young. They got nothing close to that this year, but it didn’t stop Brian Cashman from comparing the floundering 26-year-old to Jackie Bradley Jr. The implication, of course, that after a bit of struggling, Hicks could evolve into an All-Star talent like Bradley blossomed into now that he has regular playing time. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.
After several years of utter disappointment, Bradley worked to shorten his swing so he could get around on fastballs, and then he worked on identifying pitches so he could actually hit all those other pitches out there. Hicks, on the other hand, was all about being more aggressive at the plate. He made that adjustment in 2015, and it helped him out. In 2016, though, things have backed up on him and he’s heading in the wrong direction.
It’s not that he’s any less aggressive, it’s that pitchers have picked up on what he’s doing and have adjusted accordingly. They’re throwing him more first pitch strikes and he’s swinging at more pitches, but he’s making less contact. He’s essentially a switch-hitter in name only, can’t hit anyone–not even the lefties he was supposed to be good against–and it feels like his defense can be suspect at times. It’s almost like Hicks is really not that good.
No harm no foul, right? The Yankees tried something and it didn’t work out, John Ryan Murphy hasn’t been missed, and these things happen. With Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier nearly ready to be major league contributors and the outfield depth in the system right now, designating Hicks for assignment wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But this is Cashman’s guy, so you can look forward to more Aaron Hicks for a long time to come.
Cashman always has his dudes. Usually they’re minor league pickups or useless relievers, but every so often he picks up a young, cost controlled player and never lets go. You might remember just how obsessed he was with Phil Hughes. No matter how much he struggled, how many times he proved he wasn’t going to amount to anything, Cashman kept his boy in the rotation. The Yankees had Hughes under control for seven years and they were going to get their arbitration’s worth, damn it.
In case you’re wondering at home, Hicks is under control for the next three seasons, giving us plenty of time to watch his feeble attempts at being a regular major league baseball player. I’m telling you right now, Aaron Hicks is the backup plan behind Aaron Judge in case he can’t make the team out of spring training next year. Best case scenario is Hicks becomes effective against lefties again, but I won’t hold my breath. This team is not good against lefties as it is, they don’t need to purposefully throw Hicks in there too.
Even if his bat never picks up, he’s supposed to be a good enough defender that Cashman will want to use him as a fourth outfielder, but how good is Hicks out there really? Just the other day he allowed two balls to get past him in one game. He has a great arm, but no one is running on him anymore, so you never see it. He has his moments out there, but so far I haven’t really been blown away with his fielding.
At this point, Hicks seems like a one-tool player who is bound to receive infinite chances because he has the benefit of being a previously ranked prospect. As much as we’d rather see A-Rod out there, this is how dedicated the Yankees are to making Aaron Hicks happen. This is what it’s like to be one of Cashman’s favorites. At least we’ll always have 105!