Well I haven’t posted anything for quite some time and mostly that’s because last year’s team just wasn’t any fun to watch and I kind of lost interest. There was a definite need to re-shape this roster and I believe Cashman and Company have done a good job thus far. Of course, nobody wanted to see Robinson Cano leave, but for less money and less years than what Cano and Granderson got, the Yankees signed four players that should help them this coming season. Brian McCann came first. He represents a tremendous upgrade at catcher and brings a mental toughness to go along with his skills that this team was sorely lacking last year. Then came Jacoby Ellsbury. He won’t hit that many home runs although at Yankee Stadium, I believe that he will reach at least double digits, while stealing 50 or so bases and creating runs in a way that also was lacking last year. He’s also a pretty good defensive center fielder. Then came Carlos Beltran. He still can hit although he isn’t the defender that he once was, but again he can deliver in the clutch which is something this team sorely needed. I like the addition of Kelly Johnson as well. He is a monster W/RISP and can play four positions, giving Girardi some flexibility when filling out the lineup. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a left handed pull hitter that hit 16 home runs playing part time last year. Another guy who should do very well playing half his games at Yankee Stadium. Finally they have brought back Hiroki Kuroda who arguably was their best pitcher last year. He is a horse who will eat innings and give the team a chance to win almost every time he takes the mound. With the winter meetings starting today, there is still work to be done, but so far, I believe the Yankees have been very aggressive in trying to put together a team that is competitive and has a real shot to win it all next year.
With Jeter out and the Yankees thin at SS, Eduardo Nunez has been plunked twice in one week. Coincidence? I think not. Other teams know that the Yankees do not have an adequate backup to Nunez and I believe he is being targeted to take him out of games. Jayson Nix is an obvious downgrade with Nunez out, both offensively and defensively. Don’t think other teams dont’ know this and if they can weaken the Yankees lineup on both sides, it gives them a better chance to win. I don’t for one minute think that Nunez getting knocked out twice in one week is an accident. I think it is a strategic move by opposing teams.
First thought? It’s only two games. Second thought? The season couldn’t have possibly started any worse. The first game was just plain ugly. CC didn’t throw particularly well and put the Yankees in a 0-4 hole. The lineup didn’t hit and Joba got knocked around for some tack on runs. All in all, a very ugly loss. The second one was a bit better with the offense waking up a bit. The bad news is that Girardi showed his penchant for mismanaging. Cody Eppley did his job, getting a DP grounder to get out of a tough situation after Kuroda got hurt. Then instead of bringing in Adam Warren (a starting pitcher) to start the next inning, he left Eppley, a guy who can’t get lefties out in the game to face a string of lefties, then brought Warren in with runners on second and third, who he promptly allowed to score. This team can not afford Girardi’s mistakes this year. In the past, they have been good enough to make up for them. Not this year. If they don’t pitch well and don’t score enough runs, this could be a very long season. They can’t afford to have the manager making strategic errors as well.
So I have remained silent this off season. I have quietly watched and listened as the Yankees let Russel Martin, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez walk. I have watched as first A-Rod, then Granderson, then Texeira, then Jeter, then Hughes went down. I have watched as they signed Youklis, traded for Wells and signed Francisco, Boesch and Overbay. I have read all of the doomsday predictions, with some even predicting that the Yankees would finish last in the A.L. East. Now with opening day fast approaching, it’s time to finally speak. Here is my bold prediction. The Yankees will finish no worse than second in the A.L. East. They will not hit as many home runs this year, but may score just about as many runs as last year, just in a different way. They will hit more singles and doubles, they will have a higher OBP and they will pitch at least as well, if not better than last year. I for one, won’t miss Texeira or A-Rod while they are out. I am tired of watching A-Rod’s feeble attempts at hitting these days and I am also tired of watching Texeira repeatedly hit right into the teeth of the shift. I thing Youklis will be a capable fill in at third and the rest of the lineup will hit enough to soften the blow of the other losses. There you go, that’s my bold prediction and I will stick by it. Can’t wait for tomorrow and let’s enjoy the ride this year.
I haven’t had much to say lately because the team has been playing well and finished the first half with the best record in baseball. That in itself is pretty hard to believe considering the first halves that A-Rod, Texeira and Martin had. Regardless, I felt the need to post today after watching the shameless display by the Kansas City fans towards Robinson Cano at last night’s Home Run Derby. Robbie is one of the game’s best players and deserves better. I get that they wanted Billy Butler on the team, but come on. This was vindictive and mean spirited. KC is supposed to be an AL city and to boo and jeer the Captain of the AL team simply because he did not pick Billy Butler was a low class move. By the way, I don’t think it would have mattered who the Captain was, Billy Butler was not deserving to be on the team. I have him on my fantasy team and he doesn’t even start there. My guess is that Robbie Cano will put this experience in his back pocket and make KC and it’s fans pay for last night for the rest of his career. They deserve it.
I couldn’t find any statistics on this, but I can’t tell you how many times the Yankees have had a chance for a series sweep with CC on the mound and failed to get the sweep in the past four years. I don’t know the number, but from watching the games every year, it has been fairly consistent. If they are going for a sweep and CC is on the mound, it doesn’t matter who they are playing, go bet on the other team. It has become so predictable, that I absolutely knew they would not win last night before the game was even played. I told my son so. I have seen this movie too many times before. Sabathia is a horse, no doubt. He is an innings eater and a very good pitcher. But just don’t count on him when there is a bit of pressure, because he will surely disappoint.
And another thing. Could someone please tell Joe Girardi that it is not a good at bat if you don’t produce with runners in scoring position. Production is what counts and numbers don’t lie. This Yankees team is very bad in the clutch and that is why they won’t go far this year. The pitching seems to be sorting itself out, but this team’s inability to hit in the clutch will be their Achilles heel. I don’t believe it will get significantly better, because it is in their heads now and collectively they have the wrong approach at the plate with runners in scoring position and particularly with the bases loaded. It is the pitcher who is in trouble in these situations, but the Yankee hitters act like it’s all on them. They are the ones with the advantage, but if they continue to hit defensively instead of just relaxing and making the pitcher work, they will continue to fail. I don’t want to hear any more about good at bats. A good at bat is one that drives in the runs.
I know that Joe Girardi is a patient man, but it’s time to shake things up with this lineup. The middle of the order is consistently bad. He keeps saying they need to get hot, but if he is waiting for A-Rod, Texeira and Swisher to all get hot and sustain that, then he may be in for a long wait. I would much rather see Swisher in the two hole, with Cano third and Granderson fourth. That would move A-Rod down to fifth and Texeira sixth, which is much more where they belong than in the four and five hole. They are killing this team and it isn’t just this year. They have been inconsistent for most of the past two seasons and it killed them in the playoffs last year. They are not going to suddenly turn things around and hit well from their current spots in the order. It just ain’t going to happen. Time to shake things up and see if that helps any. What have they got to lose? And when is someone going to tell Texeira that being a one dimensional pull hitter is not the right approach. Last night, he got an outside pitch that he could have driven the other way and instead, he rolled over on it and bounced it off the plate. Pathetic.