Yesterday the Yankees received some more news about the injured Giancarlo Stanton. Unfortunately Aaron Boone said nothing positive when asked for an update on the former MVP.
Yankees beat reporter Bryan Hoch attempted to get some intel out of Boone on Stanton’s status, and he didn’t get very far. Boone didn’t even try to dodge the questions, as he just seemed to have a lack of information. Frequently utilizing “I don’t know” and “I think” as part of his response, he doesn’t even seem to know if a possible return for Stanton is on the horizon.
I tried to ask Aaron Boone about what is going on with Giancarlo Stanton. He was vague: pic.twitter.com/t6fLSGclae— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 14, 2019
One positive you can take from his response is that Stanton seems to be putting in some work, getting “nine at-bats yesterday and more of the same today”. Yet, prefacing that statement with “I don’t know what exactly is going on” doesn’t exactly portray confidence on the part of the Yankees manager.
Although the Yankees later clarified his diagnosis as a left shoulder strain, we don’t know enough about what’s going on with Stanton. So, let’s talk about what we do know. Since there doesn’t seem to be any timetable on his return, let’s assume he’ll be out for at the very least the remainder of May, and possibly much longer. If that ends up being the case, we’re looking at this lineup getting its power from Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and maybe Kendrys Morales. Sanchez and Voit have been playing at an All-Star caliber level through the first quarter of the season, and both are among the top five in MLB for home runs hit so far. Plus, with the activation of Aaron Hicks on Monday, the team should have no shortage of pop.
What else does Stanton’s continued absence mean? Well, it might mean getting used to the sight of Clint Frazier, as he will almost certainly be with the team for the next several weeks, if not the remainder of the season. Frazier has made almost every bit of his call-up count. In his 93 at-bats this season, he has run an of .840 OPS, supported mostly by an impressive .527 slugging. Though he’s cooled off from a red-hot start since returning from the IL, he has given the Yankees what they most likely would have gotten from a healthy Hicks, minus the elite glove.
If we fast forward to the All-Star break, Yankee fans should expect to have players like Stanton, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Luis Severino all either already back, or close to making their return. If Stanton isn’t back by then, he most likely has experienced another injury or a setback. Severino was expected to return around the All-Star break or sometime soon afterward. Gregorius, on the other hand, has taken a rather surprising positive step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Didi Gregorius is back on the field taking grounders & making throws from shortstop pic.twitter.com/ymqkOvvKhx— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 10, 2019
So far in 2019, Yankees fans have met new players and have rallied around them as sort of lovable underdogs. As much fun as this crippled Yankees team has been to start the year, those four players listed above will eventually make their returns. It’s a thought for the distant future, but in the second half, the Yankees will be playing with a completely different team.
The whole first quarter of the season has been a whirlwind as the Yankees have been propelled by players like Domingo German, Frazier, Gio Urshela, and more recently Thairo Estrada and Cameron Maybin. Towards the end of June and the beginning of July, Yankees fans might be asking themselves “Remember when Cameron Maybin robbed that homer back in May?” as Aaron Judge takes right field.
It sets up an odd juxtaposition, where Yankees fans just may have rooted for two entirely different teams in the first and second halves of the season. What will be the identity of the Yankees by the end of 2019? How will this team be remembered? If the stars come back in force and the team romps with a wholly different lineup, will it be remembered as a powerhouse? Will it still be remembered as this unheralded group of replacements? How do you as a fan look back on the season knowing they got through it all and completed the season-long journey with essentially two different squads?
On Opening Day, Yankees fans were prepared to watch one of the best if not the best team in baseball top to bottom. Yet what they’ve gotten is a lovable sequel to Keanu Reeves’ The Replacements. What will the Yankees look like a month from now? We’ll have to wait and see. Yet, with time, health will presumably come, and Yankees fans will hopefully be welcoming their All-Stars back while saying tearful goodbyes to some key players that kept them afloat during one of the worst injury epidemics MLB has ever seen.