Where did the excitement of the new season go?…
The season began with so much optimism. The Yankees had the best Spring of any team in Major League Baseball (24-9-1) which was their best Grapefruit League performance since the 2009 World Championship year.
The Yankees may not be World Series contenders this year, but I expected more than a 1-3 start through four games. With 157 games to go, there’s still much baseball to be played. But it’s important to see the team gel with a winning mindset sooner rather than later. It’s not feasible or possible to win every game, but the attitude for expecting to win should be there. With a downward spiral, it’s too easy to get caught up in the losses and the negativity spreads like wildfire.
My concern this month is the schedule. It is not an easy path in April. With two more games to go in Baltimore, the Yankees will play a total of eleven games this month against the AL rival Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The series against the Red Sox is at Fenway Park which isn’t exactly an inviting place for the Yankees (or their fans). The Yankees also play the St Louis Cardinals in inter-league play. Mike Matheny’s squad always comes to play. The Yankees really need to get on top of this, and pull out a few stretches of two or three consecutive wins.
Despite Friday’s loss to the Orioles, it was good to see Gary Sanchez connect for his first home run on the season. It is unrealistic to expect 20 home runs in 50 games again, but just getting the first one out of the way helps the mental approach to each at-bat.
Credit: Ron Sachs, The New York Post
Right now, the young trio of Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird are all hitting below the Mendoza Line. Sanchez has the best batting average of the three (.167). Judge stands at .133, while Bird, with one hit in 16 at-bats, is a pathetic .063. You’d expect Judge to be the team’s strikeout leader (given Chris Carter is not an every day starter) but he trails Bird by two. It’s sad when the team’s best hitter is Chase Headley (7-for-15).
Collectively, as a team, the Yankees need to start hitting. The formula of a few hitters making contact with the majority of the bats being silent does not work. A few more pitching performances like the one CC Sabathia delivered in the second game of the season would also be nice. With no fifth starter needed until April 16th, the Yankees have cycled once through the rotation. Sabathia gave the only defined quality start. Tanaka’s start may have been the worst of his Yankees career. As we proceed into the second run through the rotation, much better results are expected and needed.
Losing is like negativity. It is very infectious. If the Yankees can start running out a few stretches of consecutive wins, they can change the attitudes and mindset of the team (and its fans).
Let’s see what the second week of the young season will bring…
Tommy John was a good Yankee but I am tired of hearing his name…
The Yankees received bad news regarding top pitching prospect James Kaprielian this week. He has been shut down and placed on the Minor League DL. He underwent a MRI on his pitching elbow (which include dye-contrast). The results have been shared with the Yankees team physician and Kaprielian will now head to Los Angeles to meet with noted Tommy John surgeon Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D. Dr. ElAttrache is the team physician for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. He also is on the Board of Directors for the famed Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic which was co-founded by Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered Tommy John surgery.
If Kaprielian needs Tommy John surgery, it’s very possible that we won’t see him again until 2019. With CC Sabathia’s contract up at the end of the year, I had hoped that Kaprielian would be in position to compete for his rotation spot next Spring. Now, his career is in doubt. This is starting to feel like the Andrew Brackman situation. A pitcher with so much promise who was never able to overcome arm injuries, leading to his eventual release and exit from baseball.
With Kaprielian sidelined, the focus will shift to young pitching prospects like Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield to lead the way for future rotation help.
I remain hopeful that Kaprielian receives the best possible medical opinion from Dr ElAttrache and if Tommy John surgery is the only answer, I wish him much success on the long journey to recovery and hope that the Major League dream is still within his grasp.
He said, she said…
This seems to be the week of fake news. Two separate reports were leaked, only to be quickly shot down by the Yankees. News reports spread quickly that Yankees prospect Clint Frazier had asked the Yankees to un-retire Mickey Mantle’s number. Both the team and the player quickly denied the reports and Frazier stated that he was only concerned with the front of the jersey and not the back of it. The story obviously got its start from somewhere, whether it was words take out of context or spoken in jest, but I do not believe that Frazier made the request.
The other report was that the Yankees have no intention of re-signing starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka should he decide to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract at the end of the year. Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner stated that no discussions have taken place. The Yankees would be foolish not to consider all their options, and re-signing Tanaka to a new longer term deal does represent risk. He’ll be 29 in November and the slight tear in his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) is not going to improve without eventual surgery.
Both stories sound like writers fishing for stories. Finding a shred of truth it and then embellishing it for the sake of sensationalism.
Bad trade rising…
The Yankees have made their share of bad trades over the years, but one that doesn’t get much recognition is the trade of infielder Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins three years ago yesterday. Nunez was subsequently traded to San Francisco and is now their starting third baseman (hitting .400, 8-for-20 so far this season). Meanwhile, the prospect that the Yankees received from the Twins for Nunez (23-year-old lefty Miguel Sulbaran), currently with AA Trenton, has been suspended for 25 games due to a drug policy violation.
Credit: Jessica Kovalcin
While it has not been reported what Sulbaran did to lead to the suspension, it’s safe to say that the Yankees would not make this trade if they had a chance to do it over again.
A memorable Opening Day…
In all my years as a baseball fan, I’ve never attended an Opening Day game. That changed yesterday when I saw the Colorado Rockies open Coors Field for the 2017 season against their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although I am a Yankees fan, the Dodgers are my favorite National League team so I have to admit that I was wearing some Dodger blue yesterday.
But the day belonged to the Rockies and their young starting pitcher, Kyle Freeland, who made his Major League debut. Freeland, who was born and raised in Denver, delivered a very solid performance while picking up his first Major League victory. He went 6 innings, giving up only 4 hits and 1 run. He walked 2 and struck out 6. He was never on the ropes and seemed in command for the duration of the game. The Rockies won, 2-1, in a pitcher’s duel (with Hyun-Jin Ryu) which is not something you ever expect to see at Coors Field. The game’s only home run was delivered by backup catcher Dustin Garneau. The Dodgers starting lineup was missing two regulars (Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez) although both made their way into the game in later innings. But it wasn’t enough, and Freeland departed with the win.
Credit: The Denver Post
I remember seeing Jake Peavy make his Major League debut in San Diego years ago (against the Yankees) and it always stuck with me throughout Peavy’s career that I was there at the start. I guess I can now say that about Freeland too. Time will tell if he is as successful as Peavy.
Despite pulling for the Dodgers, it was a fun day in the Mile High city. The weather was uncharacteristically warm for this time of year (mid 70’s) and the stadium was energized by its fans. I expected to see more Dodger Blue but Purple was clearly the color of the day.
Sorry, the Glass is Half Empty…
I am not going to lie. I am not holding my breath in anticipation of the Yankees making the play-offs in October. It’s hard to have great faith and confidence in a team that is relying upon a binding agent made up of low budget, past their prime ballplayers. No offense to Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Alfonso Soriano, and others, but this team would have looked substantially better in 2003 than 2013.
This is why I have mixed feelings about the Yankees being “buyers” at the trading deadline. Even if…they still do not have the horses to advance very deeply in the play-offs. Recent years have shown the Detroit Tigers own the Yankees and New York has not done anything to put themselves on a level playing field with the Bankrupt City.
Please do not get me wrong. I have enjoyed watching the return of Alfonso Soriano. After a non-existent bat in his first two games back, he homered and knocked in the game winner in his third game. He is an improvement in left field. I am not sure how far out Curtis Granderson is from returning, but Soriano is better than what the Yankees were rolling out every day. Soriano has been a professional throughout his career. I remember how much he loved being the Yankees’ second baseman, and when there was talk of the Yankees moving him to the outfield, he expressed some displeasure. Of course, he moved on to other teams and they did exactly that (moved him to the outfield). So now he is back and is embracing left field and the occasional turn at DH. The nice thing about Soriano is that there is no “breaking in” period. He knows how to play in the Bronx and he has the added bonus of being a fan favorite from the start.
The Soriano trade does show what a mistake it was to sign future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki to a two year deal. I am not sure if the Yankees will re-sign Granderson or not, but there is a potential crowd in the outfield. Given Granderson’s horrific contract year, the odds are probably better that he stays in New York than if he had a repeat of his 2012 season.
Character First, A-Rod Last…
Sounds like the book is finally going to be thrown at Alex Rodriguez. I am glad. I would be very disappointed if he only received the first-timer’s 50 game suspension. He needs to lose a season at the very least and if I had my way, the rest of his major league career. If A-Rod never puts on a Yankees uniform again, it will be too soon. I truly hope that I’ve seen the last of #13 in pinstripes.
Remind me again who’s the #1 starter?…
I am not sure what to make of CC Sabathia this year. Very ordinary to say the least. Meanwhile, Hiroki Kuroda, who I always thought of as a #3 starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been stellar.
Healthy is over-rated…
As I am typing this post, I see that the Boston Red Sox have acquired Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy. Good move by Boston. I worry about the health of Peavy but when he’s right, he’s dangerous. Earlier rumors had the Sox in on Cliff Lee which I thought would have been a mistake as Lee is clearly on the downside of a once magnificent career. The Phillies asking price is too great for Lee, so I am very hopeful that the Yankees, having previously been burned by Lee, stay out of the picture. But Boston’s acquisition of Peavy gives them the leg up over the Yankees. I think the Tampa Bay Rays will win the division as Boston still has a few too many question marks, but I’d be surprised if the Sox do not make the play-offs.
I can still remember watching Jake Peavy’s major league debut in San Diego against the Yankees. He showed that he was a major league caliber pitcher that day. I guess he’ll get a few more shots at his debut opponent in the coming months.
Let someone else overpay…
Albert Pujols’ lost 2013 season shows me why it is not worth paying an aging superstar outrageous sums of money. Hey, throw Mark Teixeira into that mix. How much better off would the Yankees have been had they let both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira go to the Boston Red Sox?
The trading deadline is always a fun time of year. I am not sure that the Yankees will surface with any more transactions before tomorrow (particularly given the lack of interest in Phil Hughes) but it’s always fun to speculate. But at the end of the day, I am not willing to give up on any promising young talent and I know that GM Brian Cashman feels the same way. If the Yankees had a shot at a World Series title this year, I’d say ‘screw it, let’s go the championship!’ and let go quality talent to achieve that end. However, this is not a World Series Yankees team. Sorry, Ichiro, I know you were once great but those days have passed. So, hang on to the talent and let’s build for 2014. I guess I’ll echo what life is like for a Chicago Cubs fan: “We’ll get ‘em next year!”.