With Jeter out and the Yankees thin at SS, Eduardo Nunez has been plunked twice in one week. Coincidence? I think not. Other teams know that the Yankees do not have an adequate backup to Nunez and I believe he is being targeted to take him out of games. Jayson Nix is an obvious downgrade with Nunez out, both offensively and defensively. Don’t think other teams dont’ know this and if they can weaken the Yankees lineup on both sides, it gives them a better chance to win. I don’t for one minute think that Nunez getting knocked out twice in one week is an accident. I think it is a strategic move by opposing teams.
First thought? It’s only two games. Second thought? The season couldn’t have possibly started any worse. The first game was just plain ugly. CC didn’t throw particularly well and put the Yankees in a 0-4 hole. The lineup didn’t hit and Joba got knocked around for some tack on runs. All in all, a very ugly loss. The second one was a bit better with the offense waking up a bit. The bad news is that Girardi showed his penchant for mismanaging. Cody Eppley did his job, getting a DP grounder to get out of a tough situation after Kuroda got hurt. Then instead of bringing in Adam Warren (a starting pitcher) to start the next inning, he left Eppley, a guy who can’t get lefties out in the game to face a string of lefties, then brought Warren in with runners on second and third, who he promptly allowed to score. This team can not afford Girardi’s mistakes this year. In the past, they have been good enough to make up for them. Not this year. If they don’t pitch well and don’t score enough runs, this could be a very long season. They can’t afford to have the manager making strategic errors as well.
So I have remained silent this off season. I have quietly watched and listened as the Yankees let Russel Martin, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez walk. I have watched as first A-Rod, then Granderson, then Texeira, then Jeter, then Hughes went down. I have watched as they signed Youklis, traded for Wells and signed Francisco, Boesch and Overbay. I have read all of the doomsday predictions, with some even predicting that the Yankees would finish last in the A.L. East. Now with opening day fast approaching, it’s time to finally speak. Here is my bold prediction. The Yankees will finish no worse than second in the A.L. East. They will not hit as many home runs this year, but may score just about as many runs as last year, just in a different way. They will hit more singles and doubles, they will have a higher OBP and they will pitch at least as well, if not better than last year. I for one, won’t miss Texeira or A-Rod while they are out. I am tired of watching A-Rod’s feeble attempts at hitting these days and I am also tired of watching Texeira repeatedly hit right into the teeth of the shift. I thing Youklis will be a capable fill in at third and the rest of the lineup will hit enough to soften the blow of the other losses. There you go, that’s my bold prediction and I will stick by it. Can’t wait for tomorrow and let’s enjoy the ride this year.
I haven’t had much to say lately because the team has been playing well and finished the first half with the best record in baseball. That in itself is pretty hard to believe considering the first halves that A-Rod, Texeira and Martin had. Regardless, I felt the need to post today after watching the shameless display by the Kansas City fans towards Robinson Cano at last night’s Home Run Derby. Robbie is one of the game’s best players and deserves better. I get that they wanted Billy Butler on the team, but come on. This was vindictive and mean spirited. KC is supposed to be an AL city and to boo and jeer the Captain of the AL team simply because he did not pick Billy Butler was a low class move. By the way, I don’t think it would have mattered who the Captain was, Billy Butler was not deserving to be on the team. I have him on my fantasy team and he doesn’t even start there. My guess is that Robbie Cano will put this experience in his back pocket and make KC and it’s fans pay for last night for the rest of his career. They deserve it.
I couldn’t find any statistics on this, but I can’t tell you how many times the Yankees have had a chance for a series sweep with CC on the mound and failed to get the sweep in the past four years. I don’t know the number, but from watching the games every year, it has been fairly consistent. If they are going for a sweep and CC is on the mound, it doesn’t matter who they are playing, go bet on the other team. It has become so predictable, that I absolutely knew they would not win last night before the game was even played. I told my son so. I have seen this movie too many times before. Sabathia is a horse, no doubt. He is an innings eater and a very good pitcher. But just don’t count on him when there is a bit of pressure, because he will surely disappoint.
And another thing. Could someone please tell Joe Girardi that it is not a good at bat if you don’t produce with runners in scoring position. Production is what counts and numbers don’t lie. This Yankees team is very bad in the clutch and that is why they won’t go far this year. The pitching seems to be sorting itself out, but this team’s inability to hit in the clutch will be their Achilles heel. I don’t believe it will get significantly better, because it is in their heads now and collectively they have the wrong approach at the plate with runners in scoring position and particularly with the bases loaded. It is the pitcher who is in trouble in these situations, but the Yankee hitters act like it’s all on them. They are the ones with the advantage, but if they continue to hit defensively instead of just relaxing and making the pitcher work, they will continue to fail. I don’t want to hear any more about good at bats. A good at bat is one that drives in the runs.
I know that Joe Girardi is a patient man, but it’s time to shake things up with this lineup. The middle of the order is consistently bad. He keeps saying they need to get hot, but if he is waiting for A-Rod, Texeira and Swisher to all get hot and sustain that, then he may be in for a long wait. I would much rather see Swisher in the two hole, with Cano third and Granderson fourth. That would move A-Rod down to fifth and Texeira sixth, which is much more where they belong than in the four and five hole. They are killing this team and it isn’t just this year. They have been inconsistent for most of the past two seasons and it killed them in the playoffs last year. They are not going to suddenly turn things around and hit well from their current spots in the order. It just ain’t going to happen. Time to shake things up and see if that helps any. What have they got to lose? And when is someone going to tell Texeira that being a one dimensional pull hitter is not the right approach. Last night, he got an outside pitch that he could have driven the other way and instead, he rolled over on it and bounced it off the plate. Pathetic.
It was a freak accident and it would be terrible if this is the way Mo’s career ends. I wouldn’t bet against him coming back next year though. The real problem though is that this team is flawed. The middle of the order sucks right now. Texeira in particular looks putrid at the plate. They had a chance to win this game last night with runners on first and second and no outs. What did Texeira do? Grounded into a double play to end the rally. He does this regularly and it is getting old. Robbie Cano looks lost at the plate as well and A-Rod isn’t exactly setting things on fire either. This is a flawed team. They don’t hit with RISP, the Starting Pitching has been bad and their defense is bad as well. If this trend continues, I don’t see them making the playoffs, let alone making any noise when they get there. There is still time to turn things around as it is only May, but thus far, this team has been less than impressive. And now they won’t have Mo for the rest of the year.
For the first month of the season, the Yankees were able to stay in the mix atop the A.L. East by outscoring their opponents, despite terrible starting pitching. Well, now that it is may, the starting pitching has been a bit better, although not great. In fact in two games, the starters have allowed 9 runs in 11 2/3 innings. Not great by any means, but the fact is, the starters were so bad in April that even this is an improvement.
The problem is that now the bats have gone cold. In three games against Baltimore, the team scored 3 runs. That’s right, 1 run per game. You are not going to win too many games with that kind of offense, no matter what kind of pitching you get.
So now we have poor offense to go with poor pitching and that is a recipe for disaster. I know that Swisher and Gardner are hurt, but to not DL either one of them and call up someone like Dewayne Wise, who has ML experience and is killing the ball in AAA just makes no sense. The veteran guys like Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez are not good defenders and playing them this much exposes them on offense as well. Eduardo Nunez is not an outfielder and that fact was very evident on Monday evening. I do not understand the reluctance to call up someone from AAA to help out. That is what they are there for.
This team had better figure things out in a hurry, because in this division, if you fall too far behind, you will not make the playoffs even with the extended format. Teams in weaker divisions will win more games and I don’t see two wild cards coming from this division.
Yes, it is still early and there is plenty of time. However, I don’t see this team doing anything to try and shake this funk. They just continue to run the same lineups out there and continue to play badly. Time for a jolt of some sort.
Well, I can’t say that I didn’t expect this one. I have read all of the stories this morning about how much better Hughes was and it was something to build on, etc. etc.. Guess what? Allowing 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings is still bad. And it put the Yankees in a hole they could not dig out of. Playing from behind, the offense always seems to press and that makes it harder to hit.
Now having said that, I would have left Hughes in to get that last out in the sixth and it possibly could have saved a few runs. He was at exactly 100 pitches, had two outs and a runner on first and I would have taken a shot with him to get the third out. Of course Girardi brought in Boone Logan to face the lefty, who he promptly failed to get out. That is Girardi’s fatal flaw, he always goes with the book answer and never with his gut.
The other thing that was bad, was the offense. Numbers four through nine in the order had no hits, zero. Overall, it was a team loss, poor starting pitching, poor managing, poor hitting, poor defense. It doesn’t get much uglier than this one.
So Hiroki Kuroda turned in his second straight strong performance last night. That makes three out of his last four. It looks as though he is figuring things out and that is encouraging, because there is no way the Yankees can win the division the way the starting rotation was performing for most of April.
Also, it looks as if Andy Pettitte will get one more start before entering the rotation. He was up to 96 pitches yesterday and after one more outing later this week, he should be ready sometime next week. Phil Hughes better be looking over his shoulder, because he is the next to go. I fully expect David Phelps to be better than Freddy Garcia. It would be hard to be much worse. Phelps’ biggest strength is that he throws strikes. Good to see D.J. Mitchell up in the bigs as well. I believe that he is just as capable as Phelps. Adam Warren could be next if needed.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad April, considering how bad the rotation was, 13-9 against some pretty good competition was OK, particularly after an 0-3 start in Tampa. If they get the starters squared away, it could be a pretty good month of May.