Stick a fork in it, the Yankees 2014 season is over.
Although Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow injury does not require surgery, he is expected to miss six weeks, which really means at least six weeks, which I suspect will easily turn into eight weeks. Given the Yankees patch work starting pitching rotation and inept offense, the Yankees can’t afford to miss one of Tanaka’s starts, never mind 6 weeks worth. This essentially turns the Yankees from an 85ish win team to a 75ish win team, meaning no miracle can help them get the playoffs and the season is effectively over.
Unless the Yankees can pull off a trade for David Price or someone similar (which they probably should NOT do as it’s this sort of trade away the future thinking got them into this mess in the first place), their season is completely screwed.
I can’t stress that enough – the Yankees have effectively been eliminated from the playoffs and we’re not at the all star break yet. This is easily shaping up to be the worst Yankees season for me since the strike.
Let’s do a quick starting pitcher autopsy:
CC Sabathia (knee, knee again), Michael Pineda (shoulder again), Ivan Nova (elbow) and Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) – four of five opening day starters are gone. Somehow, 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda is the only member of the rotation to avoid the starting pitcher injury bug. The oldest guy. The guy who ran out of gas last year is the last man standing. Bizarre.
If this team had the 2004 Yankees offense, maybe they could bludgeon their way into the playoffs against the mediocre AL East, but this team can barely hit with a high school squad, so that’s not gonna work.
Yeah, we’re pretty well boned all right.
It sure does suck to lose to the Houston Astros, huh? Well, that’s just what happened to the Yankees – a hell of a way to start the season.
The reasons the Yankees lost were obvious – CC Sabathia was awful in the first two innings and the infield didn’t play so well behind him. It seemed to me that he pitched pretty well in innings 3, 4, 5 and 6, but when he gives up 6 runs in the first two innings, it hardly matters. Meanwhile, the bullpen was lights out behind him, so that was nice, but too little, too late. Sabathia is going to have to adjust his pregame so he starts the game with his A control. Maybe Andy Pettitte can help with that while the Yankees are in Houston…
The offense was sputtering – there were a few hits and walks, but it’s easy to blame Alfonso Soriano for striking out and grounding into a double play to end potentially big innings.
Still, I like this team… at least, I like this team a hell of a lot better than the 2013 edition. Sabathia might end up being the worst starter in the rotation… who knows. If this team stays healthy, they might do great things. Might.
There are two games left with the Astros. I’m not a big believer in winning streaks (they sure do help, though), but if you’re a good team, you have to win series against bad teams, so the Yankees need to take these next two. If they start the season by losing a series to the Astros… whew. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
QUICK NOTE: THE END OF AN ERA
The Yankees have designated Edwardo Nunez for assignment. The grand experiment (which everyone should now readily admit was a huge, embarrassing failure) is finally over. Who knows where Nunez will head next, but I think it’s safe to say, his days in pinstripes are over. That’s probably a good thing. The fact that he couldn’t make this team even with the added help of the Brendan Ryan injury speaks volumes about what the Yankees think of Nunez.
You gotta love those Yankees radio announcers… although this season, I can’t imagine anyone envies John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.
During a recent CC Sabathia start at Yankee stadium, Suzyn Waldman took the time to insist that Sabathia was/is hurt. Her premise is that no one forgets how to pitch one year. I guess Suzyn hasn’t noticed that Sabathia has been trending downward in recent years, but he certainly has been terrible for over two months up to this point. Given the cautious way that Yankees tend to handle injuries, I think it’s safe to say that they’d DL a player if he’s hurt given that they have under contact for several seasons to come. It just seems like the dude has lost velocity due to age (and body change? he’s lost a lot of weight – for him – coming into this season) and his fastball command isn’t especially sharp.
John Sterling was quoted in a recent Wall Street journal article as follows:
“The Yankees have been a home-run team since Babe Ruth, about 90 years ago,” Sterling said. “Babe, all the way on up, they’ve had home-run hitters, and especially lefty home-run hitters. And sadly, that’s just not part of the Yankees this year.”
“This year there’s a new Yankee every day,” he said. “I couldn’t keep up with them. Fortunately, I don’t have to bother with it, because they don’t hit home runs.”
Hey, he’s not wrong. He said this before the Alfonso Soriano trade and before Curtis Granderson was activated from the DL, so the Yankees lack of power was much more glaring than it is in the last two games. It’s just kinda funny to hear him complain he can’t make his signature home run calls as much this season.
Papa Bear CC Sabathia did jot opt out after all but instead accepted a contract extension. Now, the Yankeess and Sabathia are linked for 5 more years and $122 million – a 6th year automatically vests (as long as he’s healthy) at $20 million.
Oh yeah, the cardinals won the world series… nice pun, Bergen Record.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some C.C. Sabathia – it’s like the Yankees went out and signed a giant teddy bear to lead them to victory. But, since August began, Sabathia has had only one start where he gave up less hits than the number of innings he pitched and over all, the results have not been there as he’s gone 4-3 in 9 starts since August 1st.
Don’t get me wrong – I know hits against innings pitched don’t tell the whole story and wins might be the worst statistic to use when evaluating a starting pitcher, but these numbers are a bit scary.
The Yankees are in a comfortable position in terms of making the post season, but once they actually get there, they need C.C. Sabathia to pitch like the monster he is. If he can’t get it done, the Yankees chances of going deep in October are significantly reduced. I don’t think it’s time to start panicking, but we’re getting close.
In the first two innings of last night’s contest between the New York Yankees at the Boston Red Sox, CC Sabathia threw over 50 pitches, struck out 4 batters and allowed no runs. The results were there, but the monstrous pitch count was cause for serious concern and put the chances of a win for the Bombers in serious jeopardy.
Or so I thought.
Before last night, could you imagine a strike zone where the home plate umpire doesn’t call strikes at the knees? As the 2011 strike zone has been so big (including more above the belt strikes being called more this year than they have in any season I can remember), it would stand to reason the strike zone I grew up with (belt to knees) would be in full force, but not last night. That’s what pitchers had to deal with last night – so when umpires complain about long games but can’t get the basics of the strike zone correct, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for them. (I’d also love to know why John Lackey wasn’t automatically ejected for hitting Francisco Cervelli – and then the third base umpire had the audacity to throw out Larry Rothschild – a point I’m sure Joe Girardi made clear when he was going bizerk.)
Back to C.C. Sabathia – the man without fear. He doesn’t complain when the strike zone A) shrinks from its usual size; B) expands and contracts during the game; C) does whatever the umpire feels like. Ten strike outs, 2 runs, 6 IP, 128 pitches – not the greatest pitching line, but any day Adrian Gonzalez goes 0-4 against him, Sabathia has to feel good about it. Sure, there were lots of bright spots in this game: the running catch by Brett Gardner in the 8th inning, the home run by Francisco Cervelli, Eric Chavez’s RBI singles, Boone Logan and Mariano Rivera, but no accomplishment looms as large as the biggest 6 IP outing any pitcher is likely to have during the regular season. A lesser pitcher would have collapsed, but C.C. Sabathia doesn’t play that.
Stand and salute CC Sabathia – the big man who got it done!
Two nights in a row, Joe Girardi stuck with his starting pitcher for too long, and two nights in a row, the Yankees lost. As this afternoon’s contest is the last game of a three game set, the Yankees have now lost the series. This isn’t the end of the world, and the Yankees are bound to lose the occasional series (cough! Red Sox! cough!), but now, the Yankees have lost a series to the Oakland Athletics. The 59-70 Oakland Athletics – that’s just shameful.
This series has been marked by a disproportionate amount of RISP failures, but that’s going to happen. Hitters are going to go through good and bad stretches, and take you take your lumps while you’re not administrating them to the opposition. But the manager needs to do the little things he can do to push the team toward a win when he can, because for an AL manager, those opportunities are few and far between. Sure, having Derek Jeter bunt in the 9th on Tuesday was ridiculous (as he’s one of the hottest hitters in baseball since returning from the DL two months ago), but we all know Girardi is addicted to bunting and that is probably not going to change.
The management of the starting pitching, however, must improve to guarantee the success of the Yankees going forward. If Girardi is going to keep leaving starting pitchers in games late (Bartolo Colon on Tuesday, CC Sabathia on Wednesday) when they’re either clearly tired or in a bad situation, the Yankees’ bullpen, bench and position players are going to continue to feel the pressure from it. Colon was clearly tired in the 6th inning and should not have come out for the 7th. Sabathia, while he did right the ship after a shaky start, had no business facing a batter who hammers lefties such as Scott Sizemore (.341 avg, .437 obp, .511 slg, .948 ops against lefties and already had… two or three hits against Sabathia at that point) in the 8th inning while protecting a 1 run lead. Ace or not, it just doesn’t make sense.
The Yankees RISP problems of late are a slump, not the standard – we could say Girardi’s poor decision making is the product of the same limited sample size. You could also argue with 5 games in four days looming, he’s trying to protect the bullpen.. but those games are against the Baltimore Orioles, who have an even worse record than the Athletics at 50-77, so you would think you don’t need your elite bullpen guys in too many of those games. Anyway, for the sake of my sanity and hairline, let’s hope Girardi gets faster on the trigger when it’s clearly time to pull the starter.
After a four game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, the Yankees headed to Boston to end a road trip with three games against the Red Sox – to determine the fate of the division!
Well, we all know how it turned out – Boston took two of three and reclaimed their hold on 1st place in the American League East. After the previous road trip and the beating the Yankees gave the White Sox, you might have had high expectations with the Yankees going into Fenway, and that would be fair – the Yankees are certainly playing better ball of late, even without A-Rod.
It just didn’t happen for the Yankees this weekend, and, as usual, the prime suspect was starting pitching. If the Yankees have had a theme over the last decade (minus a year or two), it’s been the starting pitching putting too much pressure on the bullpen, and this series was no different. On Friday, Bartolo Colon just didn’t have his best stuff (as has been the case through most of his starts since returning from the DL), CC Sabathia was just bad from the first inning (any time you see Fransisco Cervelli doing that half split catcher’s stance in the first inning, you know you’re in trouble) and Freddy Garcia through a zillion pitches in such a short while (98 pitches in 5 IP) that I’m shocked Sweaty Freddy didn’t dehydrate.
But whatever; the Yankees are one game back in the east now, and seven games up in the wild card – they’re going to the playoffs.
The Red Sox are inside CC’s head?
I heard people saying the Red Sox are inside CC Sabathia’s head before and after Saturday’s game… I don’t buy it. I know he hasn’t beaten them in four tries this year, but that’s they way it goes sometimes. He’s certainly had success against them before, and since coming to the Yankees, even if his lifetime numbers aren’t dominant against the Red Sox. And, it’s not like he had his best stuff on Saturday and the Red Sox beat him – he was bad right from the start. You can say that’s some sort of Red Sox hangover, but I don’t buy it.
Posada to ride the pine
Jorge Posada is going to be a pinch hitter for the rest of the year instead of part of a DH rotation with Andruw Jones as Eric Chavez takes over for him. It’s just another phase out of Posada’s Yankee career, which will be even more pronounced when Jesus Montero makes his appearance as part of September call ups Frankly, I’d rather see Montero in the roll full time, but I guess we’re stuck for a few more weeks.
Mo is human
It would have been nice for Mo to nail down the save last night and win a series at Fenway against the Red Sox, but it didn’t happen – a near home run that turns into a lead off double is pretty hard to pitch around, even for my savior. Oh well.
Unless you’ve been living under a pinstriped rock, you know that the Yankees have been searching the trade market for elite starting pitching since… well, since before the trade deadline last year. Now that the 2011 season trade deadline is almost upon us, the rumor mill is spinning again with names like Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies and Ricky Nolasco of the Florida Marlins. But if the Yankees did acquire someone, who would they banish to the bullpen? Or, could that starter be part of the trade?
CC Sabathia is not worth discussing in either bullpen or trade scenarios. Besides being one of the best pitchers in baseball, he’s the team ace and the Yankees can’t go anywhere without him. If you’re looking at his opt out clause and thinking that makes him tradable, you’re very wrong.
A.J. Burnett might be frustrating to watch, but the guy takes the ball every five days and soaks up some innings. Burnett seems to have regained some form after last year’s debacle and now finds ways to wiggle out of jams instead of imploding. Plus, like Sabathia, he makes a ton of money, and most teams are not looking to add salary at this point in the year, nor would the Yankees be will to pay Burnett $16.5 million dollars to just sit in the bullpen.
Bartolo Colon has to be the most surprising story of the year, and Yankee fans know that he has been straight up dominant fairly often in 2011. Whether or not he can keep that for the rest of the season is a huge question, but the Yankees may as well keep rolling the dice and seeing how the fall.
Freddy Garcia is another guy who continues to shock the baseball world, but at least he pitched last year – making him just slightly less remarkable than Colon. I wouldn’t want to have Garcia on the mound with the season on the line against a powerhouse like the Red Sox’s offense, but Garcia can get it done.
Finally, we come to Phil Hughes, the organizational favorite. For me, the choice is obvious – if someone will take Hughes in a trade for a high end starter, you do it and you don’t think twice. If you still have Hughes and you get a high end starter, you send Hughes to the bullpen and you congratulate yourself for bolstering your pen while getting Hughes out of your rotation. I know the guy won a bizillion games last year, but let’s face it – he’s never really been dominant, and he can’t get through two consecutive seasons without missing major time. I don’t know what happened, but he’s a mess this year – since coming back from the DL, he cutter and change up are practically worthless (not that they weren’t before he went on the DL; I mean in comparison to 2010) and although his curve ball has improved, it doesn’t look like the same pitch that earned him the nick-name “Little Rocket.” Remember that? When people were comparing him to Roger Clemons? Those days are long gong and I don’t see a lot of promise going forward, but I could be wrong. Who knows, maybe it was the big bump up in workload from 2009 to 2010 that is impacting is 2011 ability? I don’t know and I don’t care, but if the Yankees can get Ubaldo Jimenez for a not totally unreasonable deal, they should do it and either include Hughes in the trade or just send him to the pen.
AJ Burnett is not necessarily the best pitcher to ever grace a mound with his presence. Sure, you’ll hear tales of his filthy stuff, and it’s true, to an extent: Burnett has some good pitches in his arsenal, including a hard fastball and a snapping curve ball. In yesterday’s fourth of July game, he struggled but overcame in the 1st inning but overall, pitched 6 solid innings. Sure, at the end of the 6th, he looked a little tired, but I couldn’t begrudge Joe Girardi for sending him out there for the 7th, especially after how much the bullpen worked in the Mets series. But at some point, you have to go to your bullpen.
AJ Burnett is not the sort of guy who saves your bullpen; he’s just not. Sure, he’ll go 8 innings every once and a while, but it’s just not who he is. So after that Shelly Duncan at bat, during which Burnett was clearly tired and didn’t have anything left and couldn’t snap off a curve ball to save his life, Girardi left him in there. He didn’t go to his bullpen, he didn’t send Larry Rothschild or even Russell Martin out there to give him a breather.
After the Duncan single, I thought it was obvious that it was time for a call to the bullpen to get somebody up before the ball got back to the infield, followed by a lengthy mound visit. Then, the next batter should have been given the unintentional intentional walk. By then, your bullpen guy ought to be ready to go, and you make the change. It’s that simple.
Instead, BOOM – home run, and the Yankees go on to loose a game they should have found a way to win. Nice job, Girardi!
YANKEESNEWS VIA TEXT:
Today’s text reads: “HBO & MLB Productions to produce a 1 hour special chronicling Jeter’s 3K chase.”
My guess is that working titles include, “Boring as Hell: Jeter’s 3000 Chase” or “Jeter Documentary: The Best Editing You’ll Ever See,” because this must be one boring film. How much drama could the end possibly have in store? Jeter did not have a good offensive year last year (.270 average, 179 hits), nor has he this year (.256 average, 68 hits), and he’s been hurt for the last several weeks with 6 hits to go. Maybe I’ll get more excited about this as we get to the end, but right now, I’m not interested in Jeter’s personal achievements – but I’m happy to have his glove back, because Edwardo Nunez can not field.
YANKEES VIA EMAIL:
subject – MLB best Six Yankees are headed to the All-Star Game
In case you didn’t already hear, the Yankees heading to the All Star game are
- Robinson Cano
- 12-time All-Star Derek Jeter
- Alex Rodriguez
- Curtis Granderson
- Mariano Rivera
- Russell Martin
Can we PLEASE climb out of Jeter’s ass? A-Rod has been to the All Star Game a few times, why can’t we count how many times he’s been? And really, Jeter is one of the six best Yankees on the team? Really? Derek Jeter is having a better year and/or is more valuable to the team that Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia or Brett Gardner? Or how about David Robinson, for that matter? I feel like I spend a lot of time writing negative things about Jeter in this space, but I don’t hate the guy – I just don’t think he’s the golden god everyone else makes him out to be – at least he’s not anymore.
Whatever, I don’t care about the all star game and I wish no Yankees were going, because if anyone gets so much as a cramp from appearing in the farce, I’m going to be PISSED!