MLB insiders says Hicks, Donaldson enemy No. 1, 1A for Yankees fans

Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson are facing ire of the Yankees' fans.

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Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks were subject to a lot of criticism by Yankees fans in 2022. While Hicks was booed for his errors on-field and Donaldson’s running mistake was heavily criticized by them. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the duo currently are No 1 and No 1A enemies of the Yankees’ fans.

“Mainly due to their big salaries and small production, Donaldson and Hicks currently are enemies No. 1 and No. 1A of the Pinstripe State,” Sherman said.”

Donaldson and Hicks are the most hated people in the Pinstripes Nation, mostly because they make a lot of money but don’t do much.

The worst day for Aaron Hicks was September 9. At Yankee Stadium, fans became angry with him for striking out and meekly grounding. When he made two bad plays in left field with two outs in the fourth inning, loud boos turned into chants of “Jo-ey, Gal-lo.” The Yankees took out Hicks in the middle of the fourth inning during a game against Tampa Bay after he failed to catch two balls hit to left field that led to run-scoring doubles. This proved costly and the Rays beat the Yankees 4-2.

Then Hicks went on to complain that the Yankees didn’t play him much in the second half of the season. As a result, he made many fans upset.

Fans also fans took a jibe at Josh Donaldson after his base-running mistake in the New York Yankees’ 4-1 ALDS Game 1 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday. Had the Yankees lost the game, his mistake would have been remembered as one of the worst ever made in Yankee Stadium. In Game 2, the Yankees lost because of him. It went on for nine innings and the Yankees remain in pursuit of a victory. But a 10th-inning error by Josh Donaldson became the turning point of the game and it helped the Guardian win 4-2 to tie the series at 1-1.

When spring training starts, Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks will be blamed for everything from not making it to the World Series to not being able to end world hunger.

When Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, says that Donaldson will play third base and Hicks will play left field, fans feel as if he is pushing for Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Pavano to play at Monument Park.

Is it high time for the duo?

Fans believe Oswaldo Peraza and Anthony Volpe will be much more important to the 2023 Yankees than Donaldson and Hicks. Peraza and Volpe need to bring average, contact, and speed to the lineup while still being able to hit home runs. And one of them has to make Isiah Kiner-Falefa a backup player or an ex-Yankee.

As for Donaldson and Hicks, the Giants game on March 30 is still a long way off. Cashman got Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa, and catcher Ben Rortvedt when spring training started last year. Before the first regular-season game, he traded Albert Abreu, Joely Rodriguez, and Luke Voit. Because of the ownership lockout, the spring was busier than usual. The Yankees may try a trade before Opening Day to get rid of some of their extra infielders and maybe get more rotation protection.

In such a scenario, they should trade Donaldson and Hicks, as both of them had a less-than-stellar reputation. Hicks still owes $30.5 million over the next three years, plus he would get a $1 million bonus if he was traded. Between his salary in 2023 and a buyout in 2024, Donaldson is due $27 million.

According to Cashman: “The [left field] competition is between Hicks, [Estevan] Florial and [Oswaldo] Cabrera, and because of Hicks’ talent and experience, I would not be surprised if he emerges out of that, because he’s healthy.”

When questioned if Hicks still can showcase skills that led the Yankees sign him for a $70 million deal, he told:

“I still think his talent is there. Obviously, we have not been able to tap into it. If you want to look at various months [in 2022], you’ll see a certain player one month and a different player the next month, a lot of inconsistencies because the physical tools and talents do exist. There have been injuries and inconsistency the past two years.”

Hicks’s 2022 season was like a roller coaster. His OPS was above .700 for three months, including .890 in July, and below .400 for two months. But does that just show that the player can’t stay healthy or can’t focus? And is it more worrying that Hicks’ home OPS of .523 was so much lower than his road OPS of .732? He was known as a bad guy in The Bronx.

As the season went on and the booing got louder, Hicks seemed less at ease, and his performance got worse. After the All-Star break, he hit .077 at home with an OPS of .316.

The Yankees could use the switch-lefty hitter’s bat if he played left field. This would give Cabrera more freedom to move around the diamond and give the Yankees a more diverse lineup.

If DJ LeMahieu is healthy, the Yankees won’t need Donaldson as much. But Cashman still sees LeMahieu as a regular player who moves from third to second to first. And he says that Donaldson should have been one of the three third-base finalists for the Gold Glove Award last year.

Donaldson didn’t win over the fans by doing homer trots after a few fly balls that weren’t homers, but mostly because he struck out too much. This got worse as the season went on and continued into the postseason, when he went 5-for-29 with no RBIs and 16 strikeouts. That included a 1-for-13, 10-strikeout mess in the ALCS against Houston, when Donaldson’s mere presence in the on-deck circle at Yankee Stadium made people laugh.

But the Yankees need to focus on something else

But Sherman suggested that the Yankees should focus on bigger problems instead of fan feeling for Hicks and Donaldson. After Frankie Montas is expected to miss the first month, the Yankees are staring at the lack of starting pitcher depth. They have to select between Domingo German, who gives them good depth, and young Clarke Schmidt.

The Yankees have lost a lot of pitching depth over the past three years. They traded J.P. Sears and Ken Waldichuk for Montas and Hayden Wesneski to bring in Scott Effross. Montas won’t play during the first month of the new season while Effros will stay out for the entire season following Tommy John surgery. Sears and Ken are likely to start for Oakland.

Jameson Taillon is no longer with the Yankees, and the key piece they gave up to get him two years ago, Roansy Contreras, may start for the Pirates on Opening Day. Garrett Whitlock, Glenn Otto, T.J. Sikkema, and Beck Way are also gone.

Individually, none of them is a killer, but the Yankees lost a layer of protection while the players they got were nowhere to benefit the team. Instead, they are now listing Donaldson and Hicks, as starters.

Can Donaldson or Hicks get better or get back to being useful?

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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