Archives for posts with tag: Jacoby Ellsbury

We are still a little over ten games away from the Sparky Mark (40 games), but this year’s New York Yankees show no signs of slowing down or going away quietly – best exemplified by Sunday night’s 18 inning marathon victory over last year’s World Series champion Cubs. Even the most optimistic fan, which I am often accused of being, didn’t see foresee this squad playing .690 ball and making a legitimate claim at being the best team in baseball. This team is far from perfect and yet is finding ways to excel and make a case for World Series talk this year, not next.

Biggest Surprise: Aaron Judge/The Bench (tie) – Following a brief 2016 campaign that saw this Baby Bomber K in 42 of 84 at-bats, Aaron Judge is attempting to lay claim to both the A.L. Rookie of the Year and MVP – and he may just succeed in both. After a slow start, Judge has left little doubt as to who should be the Yankees starting RF for the near future with 13 HRs (tied for MLB league) and surprisingly good defense. I doubt he will keep this pace up with pitchers either making adjustments or dolling out free passes, but Aaron Judge has shown an early knack for overcoming 1-2 counts and deflecting any praise with Derek Jeter-like humility.

While Judge looks like he can carry the team, both figuratively and literally, he has plenty of help from surprising contributors. Injuries to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez, allowed both Ronald Torreyes and Austin Romine a chance to step up and produce. Torreyes has hit .311 with a once team-leading 13 RBIs and Romine has a .281 BA to go with stellar game calling to ease along a young staff highlighted by Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery. And with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury needing the occasional spell in the field, Aaron Hicks has finally justified his #1 draft selection by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. Hicks is showing 5-tool ability with a slash-line of .338/.459/.662 to go with 5 SBs. No telling how long this Yankee 4th OF will need a chance to be a #1 somewhere else, for the right compensation.

Biggest Disappointment: Greg Bird – After a monster spring where he looked like the heir apparent to Mark Teixeira, Greg Bird is looking more like the next Nick Johnson. Hitting only .100 through 19 games, Bird is currently on the DL dealing with a bone bruise in his leg. Apparently the injury happened at the end of spring training and its severity is still unknown. What is known is the faith and commitment that Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have in the young Yankee 1B. In the meantime, Chris Carter and Matt Holliday will split time in his absence.

No Surprise: The Bullpen – Sunday night’s 3-run hiccup aside, the Yankees lay claim to the best bullpen in the game, and the sky is still the limit. The new three-headed monster of Tyler Clippard/Dellin Betances/Aroldis Chapman is beastly to say the least. Throw in impressive early work from Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, and the ever-reliable Adam Warren and the Yanks have little to worry about protecting a lead or giving their team a chance at a comeback as demonstrated in the 8-run rally against the Baltimore Orioles on April 28th.

Honorable Mention: Starlin Castro – In his 2nd year in pinstripes, the Yankees 2nd baseman is providing the type of offensive production that is making Yankee fans ponder, “Robinson who?” Surprisingly, Castro is flying under radar with his league leading .355 average along with 6 HRs and is 2nd to Judge in RBIs with 21. Despite a crowded field at 2nd with the aforementioned Cano, as well as Brian Dozier and Jose Altuve, Starlin Castro should garner serious All-Star consideration and I plan to do my part.

 

Depending on your point of view this year’s Yankees are either ahead of schedule or right on time. No longer being billed as a “re-building year” this team is ready to win now and is. Will they continue at this torrid pace? Most likely not. But they have shown they are adaptable to adversity and still have plenty of gems to deal in the farm system for any in-season adjustments (“Paging, Gerritt Cole”). In March, I had this team competing for a Wild Card slot but I see no reason they shouldn’t be jockeying for 1st in the AL East – especially once the Sawx inevitably get going.

Another great season of Yankee baseball lay ahead, along with the promise of a future filled with October baseball.

The youth movement in the Bronx is continuing to pay winning dividends. The New York Yankees have won seven games in a row and show no signs of slowing down as they play themselves back into serious playoff contention. Not only are they jockeying for position in the Wild Card standings, where they are currently one game out of the 2nd spot, but are now only three games back of the rival Sawx in the race for the AL East. Yep, this is the same team that held an early “Back to School” sale at the trade deadline. And the result? A record of 24-13 and a month long display of what the future may hold in the Bronx.

After a ten game homerless streak where more than a few commentators starting squawking about Kevin Maas, Gary Sanchez returned to early August form with HRs in each of the last two games. The big hitting catcher also pulled a Kelly Leak when he whacked an intentional ball to deep left center, which was good enough to merit a sacrifice fly. Seriously, good luck pitching around this guy. Brian McCann seems to have adjusted to his new role as DH and back-up catcher with a .313 week highlighted by 3 HRs. McCann should easily eclipse the 20 HR mark for the ninth straight season with one more blast. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are back to early season form hitting .391 and .318, respectively, over the last week. Gardner in particular saved Tuesday night’s 7-6 win against the Blue Jays when he tracked down Justin Smoak’s line drive to end the game. And Tyler Austin is making a serious case to be the Yankees new full-time first baseman. Next spring, he will have to complete with Greg Bird, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery that has sidelined him this year, but Austin is garnering plenty of favor after Thursday night’s game winning HR over the Rays. At the very least, Austin should be the new 4th OF with Aaron Hicks now thankfully dispensable.

Despite my reservations, Masahiro Tanaka continues to impress as the much needed Yankee ace. Tanaka has won two games during the current win streak and has lowered his ERA to just above 3.00. Most importantly, he has proved to very effective against the explosive line up of the Toronto Blue Jays. Over three starts this season, he has a 2.60 ERA which will be counted on again as the Yanks have one more trip planned north of the border. Bryan Mitchell’s first start of the year was fruitful as he held the aforementioned Jays scoreless over five innings. And while Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are having their recurring struggles, Joe Girardi is having no issues using his newly expanded September bullpen to get outs. Luis Severino has blossomed in his new middle relief role. Tommy Layne and Chasen Shreve have found success in their recent outings. And even Blake Parker came up big when he found himself in the unfamiliar role of having to get Dellin Betances out of a jam in Tuesday night’s heart-attack inducing 9th inning. Despite the hiccup, Betances should be fine especially with fellow relief ace Tyler Clippard along for back-up.

Another September and the Yankees are playing meaningful baseball. More importantly, they are hot at the right time and not stumbling to the finish line. Not sure they will challenge the 2007 Colorado Rockies 21-1 run but the Yankees are finding many ways to win with a new hero almost every night. There’s plenty of baseball and plenty of hope left in the season.

With the trade deadline just over the horizon, the Yankees are quickly circling the wagons and preparing their plan to sell……cautiously. Meanwhile, the team is playing some of its baseball of the year having won five of their last seven games, which included taking three of four from the AL East contending Baltimore Orioles. Just when you think the Yanks are out, they find a way to get back in.

This week has seen more of the same from the top of the lineup with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. Gardner in particular has been effective with his team leading .351 OBP and stellar defense, as highlighted in yesterday’s 2-1 loss to the SF Giants. Starlin Castro has emerged this past week hitting .346 along with 7 RBIs. Didi Gregorius is continuing his All-Star worthy season with a .323 July and a rocket of a relay throw to save a run in yesterday’s contest. And Carlos Beltran proves to be the right choice at DH with a .424 week, as he looks more and more attractive to AL contenders in the market.

Masahiro Tanaka looks to be returning to ace-form with back-to-back successful six inning efforts. The same can be said of Ivan Nova, who has only allowed 2 ERs in his last 13 innings of work (both solo HRs). Nathan Eovaldi looked fine in his return to the rotation with only 1ER allowed in 5 1/3 innings against the mighty Orioles. The key being, Eovaldi cannot be seen a third time by any lineup. Michael Pineda continues to be in feast or famine mode with 127 Ks in 106 innings and only a 5.25 ERA to show for it. And C.C. Sabathia may have finally come back to earth, as best symbolized by his tumble on the mound against Baltimore on Thursday. AL hitters may have finally wised up to Sabathia’s adjustments as he has allowed at 4 ERs in each of his last six starts.

The bullpen is still as effective as ever, even with rare missteps from Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in Friday night’s win. And with the Aroldis Chapman talk heating up by the minute, Joe Girardi better quickly decide who he can rely on after the 6th inning be it Anthony Swarzek, Richard Bleier, or Nick Goody, as another arm will be needed to get to No Runs DM.

The Yanks have shown they can hang with the contenders this week. But the clock is ticking on the trade deadline and the season. If they want in, they can’t afford any more missed opportunities.

The Yanks finished off a disappointing 1st half by taking three of four from the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians. And while you would think such a series victory would normally be celebrated it was only good enough to get them back to .500, again. This year’s squad will enter the 2nd half of the season at 44-44 and 7 ½ games back in the AL East, with three teams to surpass in the division for any hope of October baseball. The season has been ripe with missed opportunities, under-performing once-weres and a whole lot of injuries. Next up the Yanks must decide if it’s time to start selling and just how much is Brian Cashman willing to give up for much needed prospects.

The offense has been a sore spot all year-long with Walking Dead-like performances from A-Roid and Mark Teixeira. It’s hard imagine just a year ago that they were the sparkplugs. Now, they’re just duds. On the bright side, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are becoming consistent .350 OBP table setters. Didi Gregorius is following up a .337 June with a .351 July and getting serious 5th spot in the lineup consideration. Personally, I like him in the lower 3rd of the lineup to provide turnover, like Scott Brosius did during his four-year stint in the Bronx. Starlin Castro hasn’t shown brightly yet and is still on pace for a 20 HR campaign, as is Brian McCann who is providing more than enough offense from behind the plate. And Carlos Beltran is saving his best for last in the last year of his three-year deal. Currently, the Yankee RF/DH is leading the team in the triple crown categories and garnering plenty of interest from AL teams a little further up the playoff ladder.

Yankee starting pitching continues to be a crap shoot with no one ace able to emerge. Masahiro Tanaka continues to have issues with pitching on four days rest as most recently highlighted in last Sunday’s contest against the Indians where he couldn’t be trusted with an 11-1 lead and was lifted after 4 2/3. C.C. Sabathia’s “regained form” has become amorphous thanks to allowing at least 5 ER in each of his last four starts. Michael Pineda has finally gotten his ERA under 6.00 but there’s no telling when his troubles will start again. And Nathan Eovaldi has been sent to the bullpen because of his poor 1st half but may have found his niche with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Tanaka on Sunday.

And the fact that the Yankees can’t seem to find consistent mediocre pitching becomes even more infuriating considering that their No Runs DMC bullpen only needs six innings to take the baton. Betances, Miller, and Chapman haven’t been perfect but I’m guessing most fans and experts have no problem with the game in their K-pable hands.

The next two weeks will be the determining factor for the direction of the season as well as the team’s future. The Yanks play 13 games against all above .500 teams and a losing spell here will most likely make up Brian Cashman’s mind. I would love to see Beltran and Chapman finish the season in pinstripes but I’m also enough of a fan to know that getting value through their trades would also be worthy. I was really hoping this team would be in the mix. But then again, I’ve seen enough winning in my lifetime to make any Cub fan envious.

After yesterday’s 7-6 win over the Minnesota Twins, the 2016 New York Yankees find themselves back at .500. The last two weeks has seen them sweep four from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim then drop four in a row to the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies (two games each) and are now riding a three game win streak thanks to a fortuitous stop at Target Field. The Yankees are running more hot and cold than Ben Affleck’s film career. As has been their M.O. the past few seasons, the Bronx Bombers show flashes of excellence alternating with periods of middling mediocrity. At some point the real Yanks need to step forward……..as long as they’re the excellent version, that is.

The offense continues to chug along in fits and spurts. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner seem to have the top of the lineup locked down. The pair have OBPs over .345, even though Grander is in the midst of a 2 for 19 funk. A-Roid looks to be returning to 2015 form with a big HR in yesterday’s win that has been the highlight of .293 June. The bottom of the lineup has been getting serious contributions from Didi Gregorius (.355 in June), Chase Headley (.450 for the week, .321 in June) and Rob Refsnyder (.375 for the week, .283 overall). Sir Didi in particular has been a spark with a much needed go-ahead HR in Thursday’s opener against the Twins and has been scorching left-handed pitching to the tune of .383 for the season. Refsnyder also deserves some notice as he is quickly becoming a much needed utility player, sharing time at 1B, 2B, and RF. Can you say Brock Holt?

Brian McCann continues to struggle, currently hovering at .207. There’s talk of giving more time to the more consistent-hitting Austin Romine but I think that may be an overreaction. McCann has been too good for too long, and unless he’s fighting some unpublicized injury he needs to get his regular at-bats to work out whatever’s ailing him at the plate. But the one Yankee who seems to not know of any type of struggles is the rejuvenated Carlos Beltran. The future HOFer (in my opinion) leads the Yanks in the Triple Crown categories and is making a serious case for any extension. I only wish there were a way to switch his and A-Roid’s contracts. Anyone interested in a Mission: Impossible-style break-in at the Yankee front office? Maybe some papers and signatures get switched around, just sayin’……..

Yankee starting pitching continues to be better than advertised, despite a few hiccups. Michael Pineda continues to have his issues in the 1st inning and yet leads the team with 88 Ks (10.24 Ks/9). The Ivan Nova experiment may be coming to a close as the Yankee’s reserve starter is looking at a 6.75 ERA over three June starts. And Nathan Eovladi may be pitching for his rotation spot today at Target Field with a 9.82 ERA over his three June starts. On the bright side, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia have been the anchors for this veteran rotation. Tanaka stumbled a little in last Sunday’s loss to the Tigers but recovered nicely in Friday night’s win with eight much needed innings of 1-run ball. And Sabathia continues to dazzle and mystify hitters and critics with a 0.81 ERA over his last seven starts and 2.20 ERA overall. Not sure how long Sabathia can keep this magic going but it may be enough a garner an All-Star selection in July.

The bullpen continues to be a regular topic of conversation, both in terms of effectiveness and possible trade-options. The Unholy Trinity is still doing their job when called upon, even though Aroldis Chapman made things more interesting than they needed to be by allowing back-to-back two-out HRs in yesterday’s 7-6 win. It’s also weird to see him and Dellin Betances with 3.00+ ERAs but that’s as likely to continue as a successful DC Studios slate. And Anthony Swarzek is becoming quickly indispensable with a 2.84 ERA over five appearances.

The Yanks are 34-34 and currently gifted with three more games against the Twins next weekend, in addition to today’s series finale at Target Field. True, the competition may not be of the highest caliber but at the end of the day if you have to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat. It also helps to get lucky against the teams you aren’t supposed to beat. Here’s hoping for a little consistency and a whole lot of luck.

It only took two months but the Yankees have finally made it back to .500 and some assemblage of relevance. A four game sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (buoyed by 29 runs scored) followed by splitting the first two games with the Detroit Tigers has the Yanks primed to make a move to get back in the AL East race. This is especially true since the next two weeks see the Bronx Bombers fortunate enough to play four against the Colorado Rockies (Winning Pct. 468) and seven against the Minnesota Twins (.295). Talk about getting hot at the right time.

The biggest statement being made during this current run is from the bat of Brett Gardner. After starting the first two months hitting a boo-worthy .215, the Yankee LF has heated up with the weather, to the tune of a .459 June. Throw in Jacoby Ellsbury’s .316 over the same time frame and the Yanks have plenty of table setting from the top of the lineup. June has also been kind to Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius hitting .317 and .308 respectively. Even A-Roid’s contributing with a .289 June of his own. But the true Yankee fireworks have been consistently lit by the resurgent Carlos Beltran. Leading the team in hits (62), HRs (16), RBIs (44), and slugging pct. (.561), the Puerto Rican switch-hitter is making a case for both another All-Star selection as well as serious HOF consideration.

The only major concern is who can survive playing 1B. Recent call-up Chris Parmelee seemed to be the answer after getting off to a .500 start with a pair of HRs before injuring his hamstring while stretching for a throw. Teixeira, Ackley, Parmelee, throw in Greg Bird from spring training and playing 1B for the Yanks is like being the drummer for Spinal Tap. Hopefully, Rob Refsnyder can provide some relief. He may still be finding his footing in the field but his bat looks to be an upgrade over a struggling Teixeira.

Yankee starting pitching continues to be a pleasant surprise. Despite yesterday’s 4R outing against the Tigers, Masahiro Tanaka is becoming more and more dependable. He held the Angels in check for 2R over 7 innings on Tuesday and has 3.08 ERA overall. Michael Pineda seems to have turned a corner with back-to-back effective starts. Ivan Nova continues to earn his spot in the rotation with another quality effort in Thursday’s win. Nathan Eovaldi is still fighting high pitch counts and holding leads but if last year is an indicator, he should be heating up with the summer months. And after three injury-addled seasons, CC Sabathia is earning his big salary again with a 0.71 ERA over his last six starts, and 2.28 ERA overall. The 2009 Yankee ace is back and in fine rediscovered form.

The Yankee bullpen is still dominating as ever, even with Dellin Betances working his way back from a shaky early June. This week saw him strikeout four over three scoreless appearances. The recent acquisition of Anthony Swarzak looks promising after his first two scoreless appearances in pinstripes. And Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are still holding down the late innings while attracting trade interest from teams trying to stay in the hunt. Hopefully the Yankees continue to have use for both of these relief aces into September and beyond.

It’s been a long road back to .500 and there are still plenty of miles ahead to reach the top of the division. The Yankees are proving to be equal parts resourceful and resilient. This squad shouldn’t be counted out anytime soon.

After taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend, the Yanks looked primed to start June off with some swagger. Sadly, the Bronx Bombers started this week by getting embarrassingly swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, while being outscored 15-3. Things looked a tad more promising when they used their Thursday off-day to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in a make-up game from April. And they have split the last two games with the upstart Baltimore Orioles, with the offense scoring 14 runs in the two contests. The Yanks are searching for consistency the same way Sarah Palin is searching for relevance.

The Yankee offense is still sputtering towards the bottom of the league standings, currently ranking 26th. And yet, there are positives to be found. A healthy Jacoby Ellsbury hit .320 in May and leads the team with 12 SBs, including his 2nd steal of home this season in last night’s win at Camden Yards. Brett Gardner’s .225 average may not garner him a 2nd consecutive All-Star selection but at least he’s still getting on base at a team-leading .351 clip. Starlin Castro continues to be hot and cold (.385 so far in June) but with a .254 average is eons beyond last year’s 2B manned by Stephen Drew, who seemed to be allergic to pinstripes. May has also been kind to Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius who hit .298 and .287 respectively. The team’s best hitter continues to be Carlos Beltran who is off to a .318 start in June and the less said about his defense the better. And even A-Roid is showing infinitesimal strides with a .300 start to June. I’m guessing Joe Girardi will continue to find excuses to bench A-Roid in favor of the more DH-suited Beltran if necessary.

Brian McCann has cooled off considerably after his surprising .262 April. Despite his recent struggles he still hit 4 HRs in May and is still on pace for another 20 HR season, which is all the Yanks need from their backstop. And the recent DL addition of Mark Teixeira may be a mercy killing. Tex was hoping to finagle his final contracted year in pinstripes into another 2-3 year stay in the Bronx but has just been hobbled by more of the same injuries that has made his stay in NY continually frustrating. At .180 and only 3 HRs maybe it’s time for a change right now. The Yanks called by Chris Parmelee as a stop-gap measure and yet the answer may be Rob Refsnyder. The highly-touted Yankee prospect has seen time at 2B, 3B, RF, and now 1B. It may be a small sample size but hitting .294 while slugging.529 in six games is a huge upgrade.

The Yankee starting pitching continues to be an effective patchwork job with Masahiro Tanaka leading the way with a 2.78 ERA and the rejuvenated C.C. Sabathia not far behind at 2.86. Nathan Eovaldi continues to have issues with lineups the 3rd time around, as shown in Friday night’s loss. Ivan Nova has shown a little wear allowing 9 ERs in his last two six inning outings. But the bright spot may be Michael Pineda who finally showed a spark by holding a formidable Detroit Tiger lineup to only one run over 5 1/3 innings. Not exactly a quality start but baby steps.

The bullpen continues to be Joe Girardi’s most prized possession even if it’s showing signs of vulnerability. The Unholy Trinity (like it?) of Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller-Aroldis Chapman has yet to implode but hasn’t been as intimidating as it seems. Betances in particular has been the weak link in the chain allowing 4 ERs in his last three innings of work. And Chapman made Thurdsay’s win against the Tigers more interesting than it needed to be. Thankfully, he was rescued by a highlight-worthy double play courtesy of Sir Didi and Super Starlin.

Here in June the Yanks stand at 26-29 and 4th place in the AL East. If the Yanks are going to make a move it’s now or not. At some point I do feel the Sawx and O’s will fall back to earth as teams cannot rely on offense alone. I do hope the addition and Refsnyder and potential revival of Pineda will be enough.