Archives for posts with tag: Billy Butler

I have to admit, things were getting exciting. After a week that saw the Yanks energized by a 7-game win streak the Bronx Bombers have now crashed back to reality thanks to losing two out of three to the visiting LA Dodgers and dropping three in a row to the rival Sawx with a series sweep possible after tonight’s contest. Leave it the Boston Red Sox to make a statement this week about who the AL East champ should be. Truth be told to, the Yanks were playing above their talent and the Sawx have been nice enough to provide a much needed reality check.

Thursday night’s 7-5 loss which saw the Sawx rally for 5 runs in 9th inning, with four runs charged to “relief ace” Dellin Betances, was a defining moment for both clubs. For the Sawx, it was a reminder of just how intimidating their lineup is and that no lead is insurmountable. For the Yanks, it was another example of going to the bullpen well once too often as well as not being capable of putting opponents away, as best exemplified by the 12 runners left on base. I know that no closer is perfect, not even the great soon to HOFer Mariano Rivera, but if your closer can’t protect a three-run lead in the 9th inning of a September game, your team shouldn’t be playing in October.

On the bright side, this year’s Yankees are still six games over .500 and still capable of another winning season. Not exactly the consolation prize you want, but sometimes you take what you can get. Gary Sanchez continues to carry the team on his back and garner serious AL Rookie of the Year talk with 15 HRs and 29 RBIs in just 40 games played. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching like the ace the Yanks signed in 2014 with a 2.97 ERA as he approaches 200 IP for the season. And the recent signing of Billy Butler has been a much needed shot in the arm with Billy, also known as “Country Breakfast,” going 3 for 7 with a HR and 4 RBIs in his first three games. I do not see him as a long term acquisition but if he wants to use the last two weeks of the season as an audition for the rest of the AL, he can just keep slugging away.

Mathematically the Yanks playoff hopes aren’t over. But as they currently stand at 3.4% I think we can pronounce those hopes dead. It’s been quite the rollercoaster season and with the two weeks left anything is possible…..with the exception of a playoff berth.

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Growing up a Yankee fan you are engrained with a hatred of the Boston Red Sox only rivaled by Cold War Russia and Darth Vader. However, during the late 70’s and early 80’s the only true rivalry I knew was between the Yankees and Kansas City Royals. After all, the Yankees and Royals faced off in four of five American League Championship Series between 1976 and 1980 (the first three won by the Yanks and the Royals winning in 1980). What more could you ask for in a rivalry?

The Royals of those years were stacked to say the least. The pitching was led by Dennis Leonard, Paul Splittorff, and Larry Gura, and anchored by submarine closer Dennis Quisenberry (a Hall of Fame snub in my eyes). The offense included speedy leadoff centerfielder Willie Wilson, sure handed second baseman Frank White, perennial All-Star Amos Otis, clutch DH Hal McRae, power-hitting first basemen John Mayberry and Willie Aikens, and all led by Hall of Famer George Brett. If there was a hole in George Brett’s game it still remains undiscovered to this day. George Brett was the kind of player that inspired nothing but vile hatred in Yankee fans, and yet nowadays nothing but respect, at least by me.

Since that golden era (that included a World Series title in 1985), the Royals, much like the Pittsburgh Pirates, have fallen on hard times, struggling just to get back to .500. It hasn’t been a lack of talent since we are talking about a Royals organization that has developed players like Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran, and Zack Greinke, just to mention a few. Essentially, the Royals have refused to stay financially competitive, much to the chagrin of their loyal fan base. I guess that’s what happens when you have former Walmart CEO David Glass behind the wheel.

In recent years, the Royals continue to have one of the top-rated farm systems in baseball. And thankfully, most of that talent has made it on to the field. Players like Alex Gordon, who has the right combination of speed, power, and defernse to become one of the premier leftfielders in the game. Billy Butler is already one of the best pure hitters in the game and if signed longterm can be to the Royals what Egdar Martinez was to the Mariners and David Ortiz has been to the Sawx, not to mention Hal McRae. Throw in Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, and Salvador Perez and the Royals have a young, potential potent offense for years to come.

I also like the recent signing of Miguel Tejada who may have just enough left in the tank in addition to well-documented leadership ability. Of all the current Royals I save most of my adoration for Jeff Francour. It’s hard not to root for a player who is known for wrapping $100 bills around baseballs and throwing them in to the stands of parks around the league. On the ball he writes, “The beer’s on me.” Bless his heart.

The Royals pitching looks solid with recently acquired James Shields, to compliment Angels refugee Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis, and Luis Mendoza. Not the cream of the crop, even in their own division, but a lot better than most. All of this has led to a 6-3 start in April. Not exactly a definitive statement, but maybe just a glimpse of things to come.

I don’t see the Royals competing this year, but they are definitely moving in the right direction, at least back to .500. The Royals are on their way. In fact, in the next five years I have more faith in the Royals being a consistent playoff contender than I do in the Yanks. Yeah, it hurt to say that, like most truth.

The real key is ownnership committing to winning and the future. Locking up Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez longterm last year was a good start. Continue to add veteran leaders, like Tejada and Francour, through free agency and you have yourself a team. I wish the Royals success, well, until they face off against the Yanks, of course.