When a team isn't doing well, there's a sense of helplessness among fans. No one can swing the bats for the Yankees, but fans certainly wish they could. Their best alternative to actually swinging the bats for a player is simply proposing every possible alternative to the status quo. Of course, it's also April. The season is incredibly long and so much can happen, but when you zero in on one week or one month, it can feel like forever while you're in the middle of a slump.
For the Yankees, one of those positions of fan speculation is third base. As we all know, Chase Headley is not going anywhere. He was signed to a four-year, $52 million contract before last season, and he played half a season of excellent ball before the signing. We should be pretty familiar with him by now. He's decent defensively--but makes some silly throws--and he's a league average bat. That's what he is. According to the scorn of fans, though, he is inadequate and needs to be replaced. One possible solution: Ronald Torreyes.
I am fine with Torreyes. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and won the utility job, which is a very nice story. He only had eight plate appearances with the Dodgers, and now he has a chance to hold a big league job. But, is he a solution to any legitimate issue on this team? Absolutely not. Not only that, but I would be horrified to find him in a starting capacity on this team, not only because he is not a starter capable player, but because that means someone got seriously injured.
Torreyes is currently batting .500 in 12 appearances, and I found it almost comical that people were suggesting he stick in the starting lineup because of his early batting average. Most projection systems believe him to be a 75-80 wRC+ hitter, or roughly replacement level depending on his defense. This type of talk reminds me of the Yangervis Solarte hype in 2014.
Solarte, on the other hand, was a different story. That team had no third baseman, in fact, and while Solarte had no track record, there really was no alternative at third base, so Solarte found himself in a regular starting role. The funniest thing about Solarte, though, is how he essentially became a folk hero.
After Solarte was traded, there was a small but vocal section of the Yankees fandom that thought this was a massive mistake. They would argue that Brian Cashman gave up the third baseman of the future for a half season of Chase Headley.
It's true that they gave up a cost-controlled player for 58 games of Headley, but it's not like the Yankees were seriously going to be starting Solarte at third base going in 2015. They don't like rookies starting to begin with, let alone a player with no track record and a history of being nothing more than a journeyman.
Yet in 2016, you still find fans claiming the Yankees gave up a capable third baseman and we'd be better off with him instead of Headley. I find it very interesting that in baseball fandom, players only can occupy peaks or valleys in public perception. There's positive and negative valence, but never something in between or nuanced. Combine that with a player who has a pick-myself-up-from-my-bootstraps story of a player finally breaking through, and you create a hype train that not even time and Solarte being mediocre could stop.
That's why we should all be patient and reasonable with Torreyes, as much as we'd like to find some silver linings in a poor start to the season. I find it unreasonable to attach folk hero hopes to a player who's essentially a bench bat, but a poor offense to start off the season will do that. Torreyes likely won't be a starter in the big leagues. He could stick around the league as a bench player and fill a role that many teams need, but I don't think he's some infielder of the future. Nor is/was Solarte.
As much as lackluster play makes us as fans wish for the unsung hero to lift the Yankees from the doldrums, wishful thinking can not only separate us from the reality of the field, it takes away from actually enjoying very good, professional players. Chase Headley, I believe, is still a good player. So is Mark Teixeira, and Didi Gregorius, and Starlin Castro, and Brian McCann, and (I hope!) Jacoby Ellsbury. These are the players that will win the Yankees baseball games.