Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Immediately before Aaron Boone met the media on Friday afternoon, Yankees media relations VP Jason Zillo dropped a stunner on reporters, announcing that the team would activate Aaron Judge before the game.
This move, of which there had been no prior warning, initially seemed like great news for the Yanks, who have desperately missed their superstar. But almost immediately, Boone added another surprise, explaining that the team was activating a player who could not yet hit.
So … what was this about?
Basically, there is no downside to adding a half-useful player during September expansion, other than the small risk of re-injury on defense or on the bases. By looking for spots to insert Judge into games without hitting, Boone will give his most important player more time to re-acclimate to the big leagues in advance of the postseason, where he will need to be a crucial contributor.
There's another, even less tangible upside to having Judge on the roster. A few minutes before the announcement, one Yankee player was talking about the team's struggles, and made the point that it's easier on everyone when the superstars are present and playing well. Even though Judge won't be able to hit immediately, the team hopes that he can provide some kind of psychological lift during a challenging time.
The Yankees' mojo has flagged in recent weeks, and Judge's absence is a major factor. Perhaps by seeing that their best player is even closer to a full return -- Boone said that Judge continues to progress toward being ready to hit -- other players can become bullish again about their chances to win a championship.
Will any of this work? Perhaps not. But why the hell not try it, right?