Archives for posts with tag: seattle mariners

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.

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Not exactly the way I imagined my AL East Champion Yankees starting off the season but at 4-6 to start the season, it could be a lot worse. Of course, it could also be a whole lot better. After taking two of three from the playoff-worthy Houston Astros to open the season, the Bronx Bombers have shown brief glimpses of winning baseball and are now mired in a 4 game losing streak. Thankfully, it’s still early enough that top to bottom in the division is separated by a mere 4 games.

The Good: Starlin Castro has been as good as advertised, and even a little better. His first 10 games in pinstripes has seen him hit .342 and leading the squad with 9 RBIs, in addition to flashing some serious leather at 2B. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have picked up from where they left off last year, slugging .630 and .649 respectively. And the bullpen has done its job, protecting each Yankee win and making up for minimal length from the starting staff. Johnny Barbato seems to be fitting right in with five scoreless appearances, complimenting Chasen Shreve who has five scoreless appearances of his own. And the two-headed monster of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller know no other mode than beast mode with a combined 21Ks over 9 scoreless innings.

The Bad: Yankees starting pitching, which realistically only needs to provide six innings of sufficient work to pass the baton to the bullpen, can’t seem to last that long. Only C.C. Sabathia has even seen the 7th inning so far. Those middle 3-4-5 innings are more problematic to Yankee starters than Batman Vs. Superman is to the DC film franchise 10 year plan. Perhaps it’s a matter of getting to warmer weather, especially for notable slow starters like Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka, but Yankee starters need to find a way through lineups the pesky 3rd time around.

The Ugly: The 2016 New York Yankees have a $214 million payroll and still can’t seem to buy a hit with RISP. This has been particularly frustrating in the last two games against the Seattle Mariners, where they are 0-24 in such situations. These last two games have seen the Yanks collect 16 hits, 13 BBs (6 from King Felix yesterday who only lasted 5 innings), and leave 24 men on base. I feel like I’m watching The Natural in the midst of that “Losing is a Disease” montage. So while the Yankees may be 9th in all of baseball in OBP, they are just league average in hitting. I’m talking to you, Sabermasochists, all the walks in the world don’t mean squat unless you get the actual HITS to make them count.

And there’s A-Roid, off to a 3-30 start. Sadly, benching him really isn’t an option. Unlike the Sawx ability to sit the $18 million/year bust that is Pablo Sandval, A-Roid A) keeps himself in shape and B) is only one year removed from a 33 HR renaissance. Believe it or not, I actually have faith in the big steroid created lug. He will turn it around……or start collecting his checks from the bench.

Today, the Yanks hope to salvage their Seattle series with Tanaka facing off against Hisashi Iwakuma. Don’t be surprised if the Bronx Bombers break out of this slump and tee off on the perennial Cy Young candidate. Or maybe the Yanks will keep wasting more opportunities than Steve Howe. What do I know anyway?

Who are the Yankees? Are they the lowly team that was swept at home by the Texas Rangers? Are they the impressive sluggers who swept the Kansas City Royals? Are they the disappointing squad that lost three of four to the AL’s worst team, the Oakland Athletics? Or are they the righted ship that just swept the Seattle Mariners? I know I ask the same question every season but once again, will the real New York Yankees please stand up? Can they? The AL East is ripe for the taking and the Yankees continue to barely keep their heads above water, which is currently good enough for a one game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

I will treat the return of Masahiro Tanaka as delicately as the Yankee PR machine treats his partially torn UCL. It was very encouraging to see Tanaka dominate the Mariner lineup yesterday for seven innings, but no word on how long this stint in the rotation will last. Michael Pineda seems to have returned to form with back-to-back wins. Adam Warren is solidifying his spot in the rotation with his recent work, his only shortcoming being a lack of run support. C.C. Sabathia continues to show spurts of effectiveness. As for Nathan Eovaldi, he may be the odd man out upon Ivan Nova’s return. Eovaldi may be the first 98mph fireballer I have seen in recent memory who is incapable of missing bats on a regular basis and may be suited to “mop up duty.”

The Yankee offense is averaging 4.5 runs per game, which finds them 2nd in the AL. Right now the injury bug is the biggest concern. No word yet on the return of Jacoby Ellsbury and his replacement, Slade Heathcott, quickly found himself on the DL with a quad strain. After finally finding his stroke, Carlos Beltran is day-to-day with a foot issue. And Brian McCann is also day-to-day with his own foot issue as well. McCann in particular would be a big loss to the team with his stellar work behind the plate and his timely hitting. I am not sure how much of a stop-gap measure that John Ryan Murphy can be.

The one reliable offensive factor continues to be the reemergence of Mark Teixeira. The modern day shift may have stolen twenty-thirty points off of his batting average, but Tex continues to slug away with a .575 slugging percentage to go with his team leading 16 HRS and 41RBIS. And to make matters better, Tex’s backup, Garrett Jones, is getting hot as well with a pair of HRS in the last two games.

The bullpen continues to be monitored and tinkered with. The recent demotion of David Carpenter was disappointing but necessary considering his season long issues. Chris Capuano may be joining him soon, especially if/when Chris Martin is able to return. And Betances/Miller continues to be the best bet to close out wins, even with Andrew Miller making yesterday’s win interesting with a walk and HBP in his five-out save.

Up next, the Yankees have a five game home stand against the hot-hitting Anaheim Angels and formidable Washington Nationals. I envy any fans who get a chance to catch a game in each of these series to see superstars Mike Trout and Bryce Harper live. I just hope the Yankees can find a way to keep them both in check.

After a head-scratching three game sweep at the hands of the middling Texas Rangers, the 2015 Yankees bounced back with their own three game sweep of the formidable Kansas City Royals. The Yankees outscored the Royals 23-4 over the three game series, including a 14-1 pummeling on Memorial Day. The Yankee offense continues to be a consistent source of strength, which finds them 2nd in the AL in runs scored.

The news that Jacoby Ellsbury’s DL stint may be extended is not encouraging but thankfully rookie Slade Heathcott has taken the opportunity to shine, hitting .353 in his first six games (including his first career HR on Monday). Brian McCann continues to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch in RF adding two more HRs to his tally in pinstripes. Chase Headley has heated up, hitting .389 over the last week and proving to be a viable #2 hitter for Joe Girardi. And Mark Teixeira continues to power the lineup like it’s 2009.

After an underwhelming showing against the Rangers, Yankee starting pitching shut down the Royals’ hitters. Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren, and Michael Pineda were all effective and showed a glimpse of being the AL East’s best rotation. Adam Warren in particular has made a case to stay in the rotation upon the imminent return of Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova. Sorry, C.C., you are the biggest loser. Goodbye.

And the bullpen did their job of taking leads from the 7th inning and turning them into wins. Justin Wilson’s ERA may be on the high side but he is more than capable of getting both lefties and righties out. Jacob Lindgren exceled in his MLB debut tossing two scoreless innings in Monday’s blowout. And Dellin Betances/Andrew Miller is the best two-headed relieving monster in the game today. As for David Carpenter, it may be time relegate him to mop up duty, that is if he doesn’t get DFA’d to make room for Chris Martin’s return from the DL.

The Yankees face a tough test with a seven game West Coast trip (four with the Oakland Athletics and three with the Seattle Mariners). Heading into June, the Yankees need to stay consistent and find a way to start opening up a lead in the AL East. And most importantly, they need to beat the teams that they are supposed to beat. You know, teams like the A’s and Mariners.

Coming into this season one of my biggest concerns was the new look Yankee bullpen. My concern wasn’t so much about David Robertson being able to transition from premiere set-up man to closer but about the pitchers tasked to get the ball to him in the 9th. The last two games against the Angels have hopefully been a preview of what we as Yankee fans can expect this season, especially when the game is on the line.

Back to back 1-run victories were highlighted by a stellar bullpen willing and able to pick up the slack left by a struggling Vidal Nuno and a dominating but spent Masahiro Tanaka. Saturday saw the scoreless combination of Dellin Betances, Shawn Kelley, and Matt Thornton get the ball to Robertson in the 9th and last night saw Adam Warren pitch and 1 and 1/3 of relief so that Robertson could earn back-to-back saves. Not saying we are seeing the re-birth of the most dominant bullpen from the late 90’s but the 2014 New York Yankees are showing just one component of their full potential.

And as good as the last two wins were, they still do not erase the horrendous sight of Friday night’s series opening 13-1 demolition. Four Angel home runs, including one by All-Star form-returning Albert Pujols, seemed like a sign of things to come over the weekend. And Hiroki Kuroda’s first bad outing of the season caused flashbacks to his subpar 2013 second half. Thankfully, the Yankee bullpen stepped up when it mattered as they were key in shutting down the very potent Angel offense in the last two games.

Additionally, the Yankees saw a glimpse into the future with J.R. Murphy’s three RBI performance on Saturday, capped by his go-ahead solo home run that became the game winner. He will not be replacing Brian McCann anytime soon, but it is always heartening to see such talent available c/o the farm system.

Next up is a series with the visiting Seattle Mariners. Robinson Cano returns and let the boo birds rejoice. Cano claims he was direspected by the Yankees $175 million offer last off-season. Now he gets to be top dog on a Mariner squad that is only avoiding last place because they share a division with the Houston Astros. Be careful what you wish for. Of course, Cano can cry himself to sleep on gold-infused bedding and never have to worry about choking in the playoffs again.

With the the holidays upon us and an off-season of moves already made, now is as good a time as any to proclaim what I am hoping for most in the coming months and for the 2014 New York Yankees:

1. A healthy Derek Jeter – I know I might as well be wishing for world peace, sunshine, and actual news on FoxNews, but I will ask anyway. The 2013 season was a disappointing season on many fronts but none more disappointing than watching Derek Jeter battle injury and struggle to play only 17 games. The great Yankee shortstop is aging before our eyes and my only hope is that if this is his last season he can go out with a modicum of dignity and a solid year, not unlike his fellow Core Fourers Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. In the very least, I would love to see Derek Jeter get another 104 hits to lock up 6th place on the all-time hits list.

2. Faith in the young arms – While it has been nice to see the Yankees pick up coveted free agent bats like Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, the only starting pitcher signed was Hiroki Kuroda. With C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova as the only other definite slots in the rotation filled, the big question is who will be signed or step up? The thought of signing Masahiro Tanaka brings reservations in my mind, as well as the top three arms represented by Erwin Santana, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez. I actual think the Yankees already have what they need in David Phelps and Vidal Nuno. Just let them pitch. They both showed signs of being able to pitch in the big leagues last year in brief stints limited by injury. Give them their shot…..but it would be nice to have a veteran 6th slot filled by either Bruce Chen or Chris Capuano.

3. Stick to the plan – I know Yankee fans are not happy with the proposed Yankee plan which I dubbed “Romneyball” aka doing everything in your power to avoid paying taxes, but the time is at hand to stay on the path. The bloated carcass of A-Roid’s ten year deal continues to reak in the Bronx and it is time to learn what other teams are learning. Big money long term contracts are too risky and modern teams like the Red Sox are finding success with short term low risk veteran contracts. What is a rival for if you can’t learn from them?

4. No more A-Roid – The once promising dream of seeing A-Roid banished along with the remaining money from his super deal is gradually stalling. If the slowly leaked details of MLB’s case against the once future Hall of Famer are to be believed then their case to suspend A-Roid is about as flimsy as the science in “Gravity.” No matter the outcome, A-Roid will rant and rail and not go quietly into that good night. But regardless, this Yankee fan along with most of his Yankee teammates are sick of the circus and it needs to leave town.

5. Meaningful September baseball – I am a die-hard Yankee fan, but I am also a realitic one. The team being put together this off-season is more promising than last year’s squad, but still not close to competing for the AL East, or a wild card play-in game. And yet, last year’s team surprised all of us by making it to the last week of the season before being officially eliminated. I know I have been blessed in my Yankee fandom to have had 7 World Series titles won on my watch. I only ask that this year’s team offer some hope and 19 in-season battles with the Sawx that matter.

6. Just be better than the Mariners – Something tells me I may not have to wish too hard for this one, not unless the Mariners plan on a Dr. Evil-esque scheme to buy the rest of best available free agents. Robinson Cano got his big money deal and it is hard to begrudge him that. He also got the opportunity to be a drain on his team’s resources and deter any other legitimate free agent talent from signing with the M’s. Let’s see how long Mr. Cano can handle being the best player on a sub .500 non-contender. How long before he pulls an A-Roid and begs for a trade? The difference is, unlike 2004, they will be no suitors, unless Seattle foots the Jay-Z inflated bill.

And lastly, I hope to continue to live in a forgiving and gracious baseball world where fans from all around can continue to have meaningful discourse about the game and it’s players. Yeah, maybe I should stick with world peace…… Merry Christmas!

“And here’s to you, Mr. Robinson/Looks like you got your payday today, hey, hey, hey.
Now, go away, Mr. Robinson/Take Jay-Z and your World Series ring, you’ll never win….again.”

After an entire year of speculation on whether or not Robinson Cano would get shown the money, the Seattle Mariners stepped up and did what the Yankees usually do: overpaid drastically for a player who has no conceivable chance to live up to his contract. And to that I say, good riddance, Robinson Cano. You got what you wanted. I am reminded of the old proverb that says, “When the Gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”

Yes, it is slightly ironic that a Yankee fan is complaining about another team stepping in and buying one of our home grown talents. But, mostly, I am thankful. We now know that Robinson Cano, like many before him, is all about the money. And that’s fine. The good news is that for once, the Yankees showed restraint. After the debacle that is A-Roid’s deal, they drew a line in the sand and refused to give in to the Jay-Z fueled dreams of a ten year deal. Seattle, he is all yours.

Is anyone really worth the kind of money that Robinson Cano can now wipe his butt with? No, it’s unrealistic. But it is the nature of the beast that is free agency. Besides, while it was nice to see Robinson Cano put up monster numbers in pinstripes, it’s not like he had a signature moment or was a post season performer. Robinson Cano is a career .222 hitter in fifty-one post season games, which not only includes his apocryphal 3 for 40 in the 2012 playoffs but hitting a meager .192 in the Yankees 2009 championship run. That really makes you re-think his value in the Bronx. I think my wife said it best when she said, “the only playoff worries Robinson Cano will have in Seattle is where to watch them.”

This situation also makes me look back and value a player like Reggie Jackson. While free agency was still in its infancy, it was Mr. October who turned down more money from the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos to come to the Yankees. Reggie knew he wanted to play on the biggest stage and that whatever he lacked in salary he would make up for in endorsements in the Big Apple. Even before he was playing in the Bronx he quipped, “If I played there, they’d name a candy bar after me.” And they did. I guess in Seattle they can name a tuna roll after Robinson Cano.

Obviously, the Yankees cannot replace Robinson Cano. As a second baseman, his skill set (at least in the regular season) is off the chart. Bringing in Kelly Johnson is a good step, though I would like to see him moved to 3B and see the Yankees go after Mark Ellis with a two-year deal. With the departure of a perrenial All-Star like Cano, I think the addition of a player’s player like Mark Ellis is just what the team and its fans could use.

And maybe the three-year deal for Carlos Beltran reeks of desperation, but at this point the Yankees are doing what they can. There is still plenty of off season left for the Yankees to deal. Who knows what offers will be made? How about Dustin Pedroia in exchange for Brett Gardner, Vidal Nuno, and Derek Jeter’s black book? Just a thought….