(Not) Takin’ Care of Business…
The last week has been a struggle for the New York Yankees. This team is not playing like one that will enjoy post-season success. It seemed as though they were playing from behind in almost every game against the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Those deep first inning holes were virtually impossible to overcome, especially when team hitting is in a slump. These are not good signs for Tuesday’s Wild Card game.
I thought Manager Joe Girardi was wrong resting guys during Saturday’s double-header with the Orioles. While I realize it is important to rest guys, it could have cost the Yankees a chance to play their Wild Card game at home. With the Yankees most likely facing the Houston Astros and their ace, Dallas Kuechel, the home field advantage is huge. If the Yankees can’t win Tuesday’s game, what good was the additional rest last Saturday?…
Fortunately, the Yankees have the Arizona Diamondbacks to thank for their season-ending victory over the Astros to give the Yankees home field advantage. But it is the Astros who carry momentum into the winner take all, one game format. Plus, the ace advantage is theirs with Kuechel, with a Yankees offense that can’t seem to hit good (or bad) pitching.
At the beginning of the year, I didn’t feel the Yankees had the team to succeed in October. As the regular reason ends today with the Yankees in the post-season, I still do not believe they can succeed. The season ending series against the Red Sox and Orioles showed that they do not have the clutch hitters (outside of Carlos Beltran) to get the job done. The Yankees can get guys on base…they just can’t bring them home. Now that the pitching will be amplified in the play-offs, it’s only going to get worse from here. The Yankees have showed no heart in September and that doesn’t translate to playoff success. I know, the Yankees lost the last six of the regular season in 2000 and won the World Series. That was a much better team and the 2015 squad does not have the same resiliency.
I still think there were some moves that GM Brian Cashman could have made at the trading deadline without sacrificing the farm to bring in additional strength and energy for the pennant run. It was disappointing then for the Yankees to do nothing, and it hurts even more now as the team struggled at the end of the regular season like a whipped puppy. I know that it would have cost a lot of money, but Max Scherzer would have looked so good in the Yankees rotation. With no sure things in the rotation, Scherzer would have gone to the head of the Class. With him on the mound, I would have liked the chances against the Astros much better.
This has been an agonizing week as a Yankees fan. It was hard to see the team throttled like a bottom feeder by the Red Sox, and then tossed around like a salad by the Orioles.
Probably my biggest fear with the Yankees’ achievement of a Wild Card is that it fuels Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s belief that he can rebuild the team exclusively through the farm system. While there are talented guys in the system, it is far from one of the best. They need to supplement the promising prospects with good, smart trades and thoughtful, strategic free agent acquisitions. Paul O’Neill would have never had a Yankees career if the team hadn’t taken a chance on the former Cincinnati Reds outfielder. The Chicago Cubs look masterful for their acquisition of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta who should be the NL Cy Young winner. At the time of the trade with the Orioles, Arrieta was just another miscellaneous transaction and there were no tears shed in Baltimore. How much would the O’s like to have him today? That’s what you pay scouts for and that’s the difference between winners and losers.
The regular season is over. The Yankees now have one game to prove me wrong. They need to bring heart and intensity to Tuesday’s game, and show the World they are not the September pushover they appeared to be. I so want to believe that I am wrong and that this team is capable of much, much more. At least their destiny is in their hands. I am sure the Los Angeles Angels would gladly change positions with the Yankees, along with a few other teams like the Red Sox and O’s.
Congratulations to the NL West Champions…
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the NL West and securing home field advantage against their first round play-off foe, the New York Mets. Like the Yankees, the Dodgers hit a slight bump in September but they recovered and won the games they needed to win. At one point, it seemed improbable they would catch the Mets for a better record. Yet, they persevered and did exactly that.
The National League will be very hard to win with the presence of the St Louis Cardinals, but I thought Manager Don Mattingly did a good job this year. It helps when you have All-World players like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but he had to manage around disappointing seasons for Yasiel Puig and Joc Pedersen. The arrival of Corey Seager is exciting even if it likely means the end of the short Dodgers career for Jimmy Rollins. I fully expect the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS to take on the Cardinals. Nothing against the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago Cubs, but I feel that the NL World Series representative will be either the Cardinals or Dodgers. I can’t say that I’d be disappointed if the Cubs advanced to the World Series, but I think they are still a year away.
Well, time for us to find out who will be this October’s heroes…