ST. LOUIS — It seems as if the Yankees have replaced Joey Gallo in the outfield with … Joey Gallo.
With Gallo now with the Dodgers, Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-23 with just an infield single before a double in a loss Friday night to the Cardinals and Aaron Hicks slipped into an 0-for-29 slump, entering Saturday without an extra-base hit since July 9.
After the game Friday, manager Aaron Boone addressed both potential concerns, with Giancarlo Stanton and newly acquired Harrison Bader on the injured list.
Boone expressed no issues with Benintendi, saying the outfielder, picked up from the Royals before last week’s trade deadline, saying, “He’s the last guy you worry about. He’s such a good hitter.”
Still, two hits in 33 plate appearances, with just the one extra-base hit, is not what the Yankees were expecting when they acquired the 28-year-old for the stretch run.
His eight walks through Friday are encouraging, but his lack of power throughout the season has been a surprise.Andrew Benintendi and Aaron HicksN.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; Jason Szenes
Benintendi finished his time in Kansas City this season with just three homers, though he got on base a lot — which is why the Yankees were interested in acquiring him.
Some scouts believed his power might tick up once he got to the Yankees, given their preference for hitting the ball in the air.
Benintendi has hit more fly balls since coming to The Bronx (31.6 percent compared to 24.5), but his ground-ball rate has also jumped from 45.6 percent with the Royals to 52.6 as a Yankee.
The numbers are more concerning for Hicks, who Boone said had “struggled the last couple of weeks from the left side.’’
On the season, Hicks is hitting just .209 with a .642 OPS as a lefty hitter entering play Saturday and the results haven’t been much better from the right side.
The lack of production from Hicks certainly played a role in the Yankees’ decision to trade Jordan Montgomery, who started Saturday for the Cardinals, to St. Louis for Bader — even with Bader out at least until next month with plantar fasciitis, with no guarantee he’ll be effective in the postseason.
It’s a continuation of a troubling problem for Hicks and the Yankees, who have three more years after this one invested in the 32-year-old who hasn’t had a full, productive season since 2018.
Ideally, the hope for the Yankees would be that Bader returns to health before the playoffs, which would allow them to play him in center, with Benintendi in left and Aaron Judge in right.
That would leave Stanton at DH after he recovers from left ankle tendinitis.Harrison BaderUSA TODAY Sports
Matt Carpenter has also been used in the outfield to keep his torrid lefty bat in the lineup.
The right-handed swinging Bader was also having a rough season at the plate with a career-worst OPS of .673 in 264 plate appearances.
The Yankees, though, didn’t acquire Bader for his bat.
They’re confident his elite defensive skills in the outfield will be important in October.
For now, though, with Bader out, Benintendi slumping and Hicks in the midst of another down season, it’s not hard to see why the team’s offense has been down.
Gallo, meanwhile, is trying to reset his career with the Dodgers, as the failure of his trade from Texas to the Yankees last season continues to resonate.