Yankees News/Rumors: Where are the left-hand bats? Cameron Maybin, and Bill White on Phil Rizutto!

New York Yankees, Cameron Maybin
Jun 19, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Cameron Maybin (38) goes to first base after being walked by Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

A daily look at New York Yankee News and Rumors of interest to Yankee fans.

Where are the left-hand bats?

Nitpicking the Yankees:  After 103 wins last year and the return of a healthy staff for spring training, it’s hard to find any significant flaws in the New York Yankees.  Last year’s deficiency of not having a true ace in the rotation has been solved with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole.  In the infield, the Yankees have two players available for all positions, except for 2nd base operated by Silver Slugger DJ LaMahieu, who was one of only two not to go on the IL last year.  Even with Aaron Hicks on the IL to start the season, the Yankees have the outfield covered.  So, where is the flaw?  Possibly that flaw lies in one of the most potent lineups in all of baseball.  Assuming that left-hand hitter’s Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman are not in the lineup, that leaves only Brett Gardner hitting from the left side of the plate.

Traditionally legendary Yankees have taken advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium.  To maximize that result, you need left-hand hitters behind the plate.  Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Tino Martinez, Mark Teixeira, and last year’s Didi Gregorius were all left hand or switch hitters.

With Gregorius gone to the Phillies, the Yankees are heavily right-handed, making it more challenging to take advantage of that short porch in right, making it easier for opposing managers when they select pitchers.  Switch-hitting Francisco Lindor is the only player that can hit from the left side and is the single-player the Yankees actively pursued, and that is dead for the most part.  It looks as though the Yankees will have to deal with the heavy right-handed lineup and use Ford and Tauchman to pinch-hit where needed to break up the lineup. Sometime in August, the left hitting Aaron Hicks will return to help alleviate the situation.   If the Yankees don’t take Cameron Maybin, a dark horse right fielder free agent out there is the former Yankee switch hitter Melky Cabrera who batted .280 last year with the Pirates.

Will Cameron Maybin be a Yankee?

Cameron Maybin stepped up to the plate for the Yankees in 82 regular-season games last year and hit .285 with eleven home runs while manning the outfield as the Yankees suffered unprecedented injuries throughout the lineup.  If you recall Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge were all off the field for a time last year.

At the end of the season, when Maybin became a free agent, he made it clear that he wanted to remain a Yankee.   That offer never came from the Yankee front office.  In a statement, Maybin explained why he wanted to stay a Yankee:

“Put it like this,” Maybin said in September. “When you get signed out of high school as a young kid and you dream and, you think what professional baseball is going to be like, and as you get into an organization and it’s nothing like that? This is what I thought it would be like, as far as the expectations, the professionalism. This is what you think big-league baseball is going to be like when you’re a youth when you imagine one day playing in the big leagues, the environment, the atmosphere. This is what you dream about. This is what you expect. You don’t get that everywhere. To have an opportunity to get that this year is a blessing for me.”

Months have passed, and Maybin is still a free agent. General Manager Cashman did contact his agent early in the postseason, but nothing has been heard of regarding any movement since then.  In another statement, he said:

“Yeah, I think it’s a no-brainer that this is somewhere that I would want to be in the future. But I’ve been around this game long enough to know how it works. You’ve got prospects, you’ve got other free agent moves. Again, I’ve done it for a while. I don’t really put any expectations going forward on free agency. But do I think this is by far the best organization I’ve ever been a part of? Absolutely. Without question.”

Maybin has undoubtedly made it known to fans and the Yankee management where he would like play.  Now there are reports from John Heyman of the MLB Network that the Pirates are considering Maybin as well as other outfielders to fill their void.  The Yankees have a situation of having a full, healthy outfield to start the year with the signing of Brett Gardner.   The question is who will act first, the Yankees, the Pirates, or some other team.  Maybin is a valuable asset to any organization, even as a bench player.  Only time will tell if Cameron Maybin is again a Yankee.

Bill White on Phil Rizutto:

Bill White was a first baseman for the Giants, Cardinals, and the Phillies.  While still playing, he got a radio program, and following his retirement, he became a Yankee broadcaster.  He was the very first black major league broadcaster.  He broadcast with a team of he, Frank Messer, and most often with Yankee shortstop legend Phil Rizutto.  Yankee fans remember well Rizutto as a player and broadcaster.

The team of White and Rizutto lasted for seventeen years.  On a broadcast on WPIX, White remembered Rizutto, who died back in 2007.  He said that Rizutto was a great storyteller and quite a character.  At times he would leave the booth and return with a dozen cannoli.  White said he appreciated his honesty, openness, and his vast knowledge of the game.  His storytelling came in very handy during rain delays as he could talk about the game and baseball in general for as long as necessary.  Today when rain delays a game, the YES network goes back to the studio.  Back then (1971-1988), there were just the booth announcers to entertain viewers.  White said that Phil’s love of the game came through in every broadcast.  His distinctive voice was known to fans without actually seeing him.  Fans know different broadcasters’ typical phrases, but none was more unique than that of Phil Rizutto.  On any great play or significant happening during a game, including home runs, Phil would say “Holy Cow.”  White is 85 and living in Lakewood, Florida.