Let’s get this out of the way at the top: every Astro fan loves Yuli Gurriel. The hair, the smile, the HR in the 2017 WS, the clutch hits in the 2023 postseason, the Cubanity of the man. But the idea of bringing Yuli back are just ludicrous. Let me lay out this argument by exploding three myths:
- Yuli can be a valuable bench bat. There is a universal DH and teams rarely pinch-hit in the regular season. Look at the lineup and figure out who Yuli’s pinch-hitting for. Late in the game, you could imagine Yuli pinch-hitting for Brantley against a tough lefty. And theoretically for the catcher. That’s it. And I don’t know how much Yuli would even help in those situations. He hit .242 and slugged .360 last season.
- Yuli can be a super sub. Yes, we all love Yuli for his scoops. But his range at 1b is well-below average. There were a lot of plays last year where a more rangy 1b could have made the play. In an emergency he can play anywhere on the diamond but he cannot reliably back up any other IF spot. And if you roster Yuli, the rest of your bench is Hensley, Lee, and either Dubon or Meyers. If you put Meyers in AAA, then Dubon is going to get a ton of run as late inning PR (remember, Yuli can’t really do that), and also regular starter in the games where Chas gets moved to LF. Dubon also spells Altuve, Bregman, and Pena on the days when Hensley is otherwise occupied. If you say goodbye to Dubon, then Meyers gets those outfield spots, but can’t sub in to give the occasional rest to Altuve and Bregman. What’s the big deal if Yuli plays SS or 2b in a 12-2 blowout? Well, ask the staff how they feel when they give up multiple runs because their middle IF has the range of .... an aging 1b. Adding Yuli makes the bench much less flexible and the team weaker
- Yuli can make a comeback. Nobody wants to bet against Yuli but he has a lot of miles on his tires. He’s been a professional for 20 years. He was awful all season last year. He only hit 8 HR. He produced a negative WAR. He stopped drawing walks. And the finer measurements show that he actually got lucky. Yes, he puts the ball in play. But with about the same authority as Dubon. He’s turning 39 in five months and it’s an old 39. His playoff run was great, but he also walked just once in 50 PAs. He has to swing early because his pitch recognition declined and it’s those kind of past-prime bargainings that make further decline likely, and a return to 2021 seem like wishful thinking. Last season Yuli killed us in the clutch and Dusty kept hitting him in key spots (5th, 6th, and 2nd). He hit .218 with runners on, .221 w/ RISP, and was 1-14 with the bases loaded.
Yuli went out on a high note. We have so many fond memories. Signing him will make the team worse. Just let it go.