How do you solve a problem like Clint Frazier?
A. Do you limit his glovework to the batting gloves he wears while at the plate?
B. Do you trade him to an American League team, one that will use him as its own designated hitter, for a starting pitcher?
C. Do you demote him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and have him play outfield every day until he no longer resembles Les Nessman from “WKRP in Cincinnati” trying softball for the first time in his life at age 39?
D. Do you keep giving him big-league reps in the outfield, contending the offensive production justifies the defensive adventures?
I’d go with A for now, while keeping B in the back of my mind. I sure as heck wouldn’t choose D.
The Yankees suffered their first loss of the season to the Red Sox on Sunday night, 8-5 at Yankee Stadium, and if the result didn’t bother you — the Yankees nonetheless won their ninth straight series and hold an impressive 8 ½-game lead over the defending champions in the American League East — the process might have made you a little seasick.
The Bosox might have prevailed no matter who wore the pinstripes in right field; old pal David Price threw a solid 6 ¹/₃ innings, allowing two runs, and the visitors totaled 13 hits. Yet the presence of Frazier on defense sure decreased the Yankees’ chances to win this game, and they exemplified rather vividly how his struggles playing the position virtually neutralize the clear contributions he makes with his bat.
This nationally televised contest served as a platform for Frazier’s ineptitude, with a trilogy of poor plays in the span of two innings.
First, in the top of the seventh, former Yankee Eduardo Nunez (no Gold Glove winner himself) lined what appeared to be a pedestrian base hit to right, with Michael Chavis set to advance from first base to second. Instead, the ball evaded Frazier’s glove altogether and rolled all the way to the wall, with Chavis scoring for a 4-2 advantage and Nunez running all the way to third.
Just three batters later, with Nunez having scored on Brock Holt’s single, Andrew Benintendi lofted a fly ball to short right. Frazier hit the ground in an effort to corral it; the ball hit the grass and then Frazier, ricocheting away from him, and after chasing down the ball, Frazier’s throw home was so off-line that Holt scored easily.
Finally, in the top of the eighth, with one run already in and Rafael Devers on second base, Chavis sent another fly ball to right. Frazier took an odd route on this one, and the ball landed in front of him and skipped past him, allowing Devers to score and Chavis to reach third for a triple, and generating a sea of boos for the often popular youngster.
What an ugly sequence for the Yankees. What a disastrous one for Frazier, who singled twice in four at-bats to lift his slash line to an overall impressive .276/.318/.524.
I’d rather see Frazier than old-timer Kendrys Morales get DH at-bats on this team; Frazier has offered plenty of encouragement that he can hit at the major league level. If the Blue Jays, say, wanted Frazier for Marcus Stroman, I’d have to seriously consider that, just because the Yankees already have so many interesting bats on their roster and they need pitching help.
The status quo, however, can’t stand. The Yankees can’t give Frazier regular opportunities in the outfield when he’s such an exorcist out there. This problem, for sure, requires a more drastic solution than that.