Archives for posts with tag: joe girardi

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.

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When this past off-season saw the usually big spending Yanks only make waves by re-acquiring Aroldis Chapman and giving Matt Holliday a 1-year flyer, most fans and analysts didn’t know what to think. This was not the Yanks of old. This was not the M.O. of a big-spending team that missed the playoffs for three of the last four seasons. This was definitely keeping with the new plan implemented by Brian Cashman at last year’s trade deadline. The Yankees are getting younger as we watch and the future is now…maybe a year off.

This year’s spring training was an introduction of new names and high double-digit numbers to a fan base desperate for a return to October baseball. And it was a very encouraging introduction with the Yankees playing .700 ball in the Grapefruit League. True, spring training is not a highly accurate predictor of the future, like Nate Silver’s election algorithms, but there was definitely something new and exciting on display.

The biggest surprise was the return of Greg Bird. After a 2015 mini-campaign that had him prepared to displace Mark Teixeira immediately, Bird was sidelined for all of 2016 with shoulder surgery. This spring saw him return with a vengeance, hitting .451 with a team leading 8 HRs. Displaying an ability to hit to all fields against righties and lefties, coupled with solid defense at 1B, Greg Bird may be the answer at 1B, this season and beyond.

Gary Sanchez picked up from where his 2nd place Rookie of the Year campaign left off, hitting .373 with 5 HRs and showing plenty of arm strength from behind the plate. I was a big fan of Brian McCann and sad to see him depart to Houston but Gary Sanchez’s talent at and behind the plate will not be denied and will be on display post haste.

Tyler Wade, Billy McKinney, Ruben Tejada, Clint Frazier, and Gleyber Torres all showed glimpses of future days in the Bronx. Torres in particular may see an early call-up, especially if Chase Headley continues to underwhelm in the 3rd year of his four-year deal. The jettisoning of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman bore many fruits that the Yankee organization is eager to pluck when fully ripe.

And the addition of 7-time All Star Matt Holliday should easily fill the void left when Carlos Beltran was sent to Texas. Holliday had a banged up 2016 campaign, but as a F/T DH should be plenty healthy to provide much-needed power and veteran leadership.

Starting pitching continues to be the biggest Achilles heel. But considering that an almost identical staff in 2016, minus the recently released Nathan Eovaldi, was good enough for 84 wins anything is possible. The right elbow of Masahiro Tanaka continues to be under more scrutiny than Price Waterhouse’s Oscar night decorum. If Tanaka finally gets to 200 innings this season, there will only be four remaining pitching questions marks. CC Sabathia will most likely end up in the bullpen by June and Michael Pineda has yet to find anything mirroring consistency – both will not be around for 2018. Thankfully, this means plenty of opportunities for Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell who have all had success in limited MLB exposure. And Luis Severino continues to be the wild card of them all. Will he return to ROY-esque form from 2015 or only be effective from the bullpen as in 2016? I do hope it’s the former but the latter works just as well.

More than likely, the Yankees will not make the playoffs this season. At best they will be in the run for a Wild Card slot, and anything can happen in that play-in game. I would give this year’s squad about a 15% chance of making it to the divisional round. I expect this year to be a repeat of last year, in the mix but not a true contender. I expect the young talent of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge (who also had an impressive spring) and Luis Severino to gain another year of big league experience in preparation for 2018. 2017 is the new 1995. The future is bright, shining with young talent and hungry veterans prepared to deliver new World Series rings to the Bronx and forcing Joe Girardi to change his uniform number into the 30’s.

The future is bright, Yankee fans, and we may be lucky enough to see Yankee championship history repeat over and over in the next decade….as long as $400 million are not wasted on Bryce Harper. #HeadCase

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.

The 2016 New York Yankees continue to perform just well enough to be considered relevant. Not exactly what fans of the highly priced Bronx Bombers want to hear but we should take what we can get. After taking three straight series from the playoff contending Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Kansas City Royals, the Yanks faltered this past weekend in another series against the O’s. The Yankees salvaged the weekend by winning yesterday’s finale 5-2 after being shut out in back-to-back losses to start the weekend. Technically, the Yankees still have enough time and opportunities to get in the game for October but mostly we are watching a team playing for 2017 and beyond.

Despite a .174 week, Gary Sanchez continues to impress and intimidate with 11 HRs and a .355 average to start his career. He will not qualify for this year’s AL Rookie of the Year but is definitely making a case for serious consideration next season. Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro have cooled off after their early August starts but are still a formidable DP combo in the AL. Speaking of cooling off, Aaron Judge has turned ice cold after his great start. He is only hitting .177 and looks a bit lost at plate with 32Ks in 62 ABs. Perhaps it’s a good thing the Yankees aren’t playing for October as it will give the young slugger some time to develop. On the bright side, he is not the defensive liability that Carlos Beltran was in RF. And somehow Chase Headley is stepping up his game with a .368 week, though Joe Girardi would still be smart to get regular at-bats for Ronald Torreyes.

Pitching was dealt a considerable blow with the loss of Chad Green for this season, and most likely next season. Not sure what the plan is with the Yankees already short on starting arms after losing Nathan Eovaldi earlier this season. Perhaps we will see more “bullpen games” like in yesterday’s win. Luis Severino is slated to return to the rotation at some point and yet as been his most effective in relief as highlighted by yesterday’s two scoreless frames. With September call-ups in hand, Girardi should take this opportunity to use as many arms as possible to get through games and see who shows potential for future use. And C.C. Sabathia continues to battle and eat up some innings but at this point his days in NY are numbered and his huge salary coming off the books next season should be more than enough to lure a decent free agent signing.

The Yankees have 27 games left, and 24 are against AL East opponents. Unless the Yanks go on historic run, I do not see October baseball. The Yanks are on pace for 83-85 wins which may seem to be a major disappointment but I see as a serious reclamation considering they started the season at 8-16. There’s a month of baseball left in the Bronx and I for one am excited to see what lays ahead this season and next.

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.

After yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins, the 2016 New Yankees have finally passed the most impassable of marks of early season success: the .500 mark. Sadly, it’s not that early in the season anymore at 37-36 and they are only over by a single game but Damnit, baby steps, Yankee fans. The Yanks have also been helped by having to only play five games this week with two luxurious days off. Regardless, the Yanks have taken advantage of their situation, for now, by winning three in a row, and six of their last eight hoping to build some sense of momentum with the mighty 1st place AL West leading Texas Rangers headed into the Bronx for a four game starting tomorrow. Of course the Yanks still have one more game against the Twins today to increase the newfound WINNING percentage.

The week was more of the same from this year’s Yanks, with a few surprises. Most of the surprises came in Thursday’s comeback win over the Colorado Rockies. The first surprise came in the form of Chase Headley’s 425-foot grand slam over the CF field wall that staked CC Sabathia to any early 4-0 lead. Headley may not be the same player that the Yanks signed for 4 years/$52 million last season but can still be counted on for solid defense and quality at-bats at the right moment. The next surprise came when CC Sabathia seemed to revert to his old ways, unable to hold the lead and not even being able to get out of the 5th inning. It was CC’s worst start in two months (though his ERA still stands at an impressive 2.71) and hopefully this is not an omen of things to come. But the biggest surprise came when the Yanks were facing an 8-4 deficit in the bottom of the 7th inning and came back, bit by bit. Carlos Beltran started things off with a three-run HR in the bottom of the frame, followed by an RBI single from Didi Gregorius in the 8th, and capped off by Starlin Castro’s game winning bomb over the LF wall in the 9th. This offensive output was aided by No Runs DMC being a tourniquet on the other end, keeping the Rockies lineup silent for the last three innings.

Probably don’t want to think too much into this win and yet there’s always that possibility that this is the signature win where everything falls into place. The Yanks best starter doesn’t have his best stuff, the offense finds a way to rally, and the lights out bullpen secures the win. It’s pretty much the equation that most in the Yankee hierarchy envisioned all season. The question is will it always compute? And what happens when all of the variables aren’t in place? For example, today Betances, Miller, and Chapman are almost certainly unavailable as Joe Girardi has made use of their extraordinary services in the last three games, all wins. Is this the day that Nasty Nate Eovaldi returns and gives the Yanks the 7-8 innings that he is more than capable of providing?

It’s gut check time for the Yanks today, again, even against the lowly Twins. At some point this team needs to get on a roll and stay on it. Otherwise, Brian Cashman will need to develop a better poker face than Howard Lederer as the trade deadline starts to loom. I certainly hope the Yanks do not become sellers since I think they have more than enough talent to make a run. Just hoping they get to running very 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.