There have been a lot of reasons to feel positive in this pandemic. The conduct of doctors and nurses at the frontline of the healthcare system has been nothing short of heroic, and we’re seeing leadership from grocery and drugstore employees and delivery drivers needed to keep everyone indoors, safe and supplied. If you’re looking for good feelings, there are lots of examples.
At the same time, it’s valid to feel angry or upset at the way this pandemic has played out, for a variety of reasons. This is a complicated and confusing time, as long as your anger isn’t being used to overtly hurt another person, it’s a valid emotion and it’s okay to feel that way.
I’m going to use some latent anger and frustration to talk about the players I have hated since I started working here. The Yankees are my favorite team in baseball, I wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case, but there are certain guys that just grind your gears, and we’re going to talk about them right now. I’ve only included former Yankees, but Luis Cessa knows just where he sits on this list as well.
Jaime Garcia - 2017
Level of Hate: Wet socks I cannot change out of
The Yankees landed Garcia at the 2017 trade deadline, in the first year of the Baby Bombers era proper. The team was on the way to an ALCS appearance, but everyone knew Brian Cashman needed to shore up pitching depth. We all were waiting on the Sonny Gray trade to break — and while it did eventually — first we had to watch arbitrage in real time as Garcia was flipped from Atlanta to Minnesota to New York, in what was essentially a contract pickup.
All Garcia did after that point was post a 4.82 ERA and 4.87 FIP in pinstripes, providing exactly zero of the depth and reliability we were hoping for. He made exactly one appearance in the Yankees’ playoff run, which is a good thing in all honesty. Batters were teeing off him without knowing what pitch was coming, I shudder to think what would have happened if the 2017 Astros had gotten multiple looks at him.
Lance Lynn - 2018
Level of Hate: Fruit rotting earlier than you thought it would
There are some similarities between Lynn and Garcia — both were veteran pitchers acquired from the Twins in the midst of a playoff run to solidify shaky depth. Lynn actually performed better with the Yankees than you might think — his ERA and FIP improved over what he had posted in Minnesota and his K-BB% more than doubled — and we started to see flashes of the player he would be in Texas in 2019.
But the reason I hate Lance Lynn is because of the ALDS. It’s Game 3, at home, with the series split 1-1. The Yankees have a great chance to take a game from the 108 win Red Sox and put them on the ropes. It’s 3-0 Boston, and Luis Severino is pulled with the bases loaded and nobody out. Remember, this is the 2018 Yankees! A dominant bullpen! Is it time for Dellin Betances? David Robertson?
Lol no, it’s time for Lance Lynn, who walks in a run and surrenders a bases-clearing double. He’s only charged with three runs, the rest are inherited, but those two batters faced do more to eliminate the Yankees from the playoffs than anything else. The game completely falls apart and we’re treated to Austin Romine taking the mound — more on him later.
Maybe I’m being unfair to Lynn — he didn’t call his own number, and going to Lance instead of a real relief pitcher is perhaps the blackest mark on Aaron Boone’s tenure as Yankee manager. But Aaron Boone is not on my hate vessel list, and Lance Lynn is, so he just has to take it.
Troy Tulowitzki - 2019
Level of Hate: Spittin’ mad
One of the things that gets me irrationally angry is major league contracts for filler guys. Your 26-man roster is really a team’s most important asset, and adding players that you know will be replacement level at best isn’t how you build a winner.
Acquiring Tulo also gave light to what people think “high reward” means. That was the narrative around the oft-injured shortstop - he’s cheap! Low risk high reward! ZiPS projected him for a 77 OPS+ and about half a win, which left me wondering where the high reward part was going to kick in. In his defense, Tulo actually outplayed that projection, to a tune of a 121 OPS+...for 13 plate appearances between getting hurt, again, and retiring.
Kendrys Morales - 2019
Level of Hate: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH
Y’all Kendrys Morales is really bad— Joshua (@JoshuaDiemert) May 15, 2019
This is also why the Jays got him, and spoiler alert, he sucks. Bad LA and the slowest runner in baseball, doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball if it’s on the ground to SS https://t.co/AljaaguUuu— Joshua (@JoshuaDiemert) May 15, 2019
The nicest thing I’ll say about Kendrys Morales was he proved me right. In a field where your bad takes follow you forever, I’m glad Morales provided a good take.
Austin Romine - 2011-2019
Level of Hate: Sam Sheepdog & Ralph Wolf
Ohhh, Austin Romine. Perhaps no player illustrates the divide between Yankee fans quite so well — among some, Romine is an unsung hero, someone who people argued would be a starter on multiple MLB clubs. The fact he signed a one-year deal with arguably the worst team in baseball would tend to indicate he is not a starting-caliber catcher, but hey, sports are irrational.
Funny enough, despite the divisions around Romine within Yankee circles, it doesn’t really seem like baseball writ large cares about him much at all:
And yet, Romine has provided such a wonderful foil to Gary Sanchez, giving people like me dozens of opportunities to talk about how the offensive upside of a guy like Sanchez is what makes him so valuable, and that most catchers in baseball look a lot like Romine, making Gary stand out so much.
My Level of Hate meter for Romine is fair, I think. I don’t like him, I think he’s a bad player, and I don’t understand the perpetual smudge on his face. Yet I needed Romine to do my job, in a level of blogging dependence I haven’t quite reconciled. Good luck in Detroit, Austin, I will miss yelling about you.
Who make up your Yankee hate vessels? Let’s direct some of our frustration about this pandemic in a low-stakes direction. Carl Pavano and Javy Vasquez make for obvious choices, is there anyone else that really sticks in your craw?