Apr
02

Thoughts following Opening Day

By
(Photo via Ken Rosenthal)

(Photo via Ken Rosenthal)

The Yankees kicked off the season yesterday afternoon with a game that was basically the sum of all fears: an ineffective offense, a diminished CC Sabathia following elbow surgery, and sketchy bullpen work aside from Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. It wasn’t an ugly loss, per se, but it was a flat and uninteresting game. Add in weather that got increasingly cold, wet, and windy as the afternoon went on, and it’s no surprise the stands looked like the above photo by the ninth inning. Oh well, it’s only one game. Still 99.4% of the season left to play.

1. It didn’t hit me how vulnerable the Yankees are against left-handed pitching until I saw yesterday’s lineup. Eduardo Nunez hitting second? Jayson Nix and Ben Francisco in the lineup? That is weak. At least against righties they’ll have Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay. The against-lefties lineup will improve when Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira return, but who knows when that will happen. The Yankees aren’t likely to face many southpaws over the next two weeks because their upcoming opponents have righty-heavy rotations, but there are a lot of good left-handers in the AL East and they won’t be able to avoid them forever.

2. Not a day goes by that I don’t lament the inability to trade for Justin Upton. The Yankees desperately need that type of young impact bat, a true cornerstone type of player whose best years are (theoretically) ahead of him. Upton has that big right-handed power that plays in any park, a perfect lineup anchor for the team that could sign a lefty hitter off the street and get 20 homers out of him thanks to the short porch in right field. The Diamondbacks reportedly didn’t like the prospects the Yankees had to offer, but damn. Upton would have been perfect.

3. While on the subject of offense, I would much rather watch a team that can’t pitch than a team that can’t hit. Especially over the course of 162 games, no question asked. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to score runs, even blowing leads inning after inning. Also, you can get to the playoffs as an all-hit/no-pitch team. The Yankees have done that a bunch of times before, including in the not-too-distant past. No-hit/all-pitch though? It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure early tee-times in October.

4. Boone Logan absolutely terrifies me right now. Between the barking elbow in camp and the league-leading workload last year and the fact that Joe Girardi will use him often since he’s the only lefty … I’m nervous. He was fine in yesterday’s game, but man, I feel like it’s all going to blow up at some point. The Yankees have plenty of left-handed relief depth, specifically Vidal Nuno and Josh Spence in Triple-A with Cesar Cabral due to return at midseason, but I feel like Logan will have to blow up before the team dips into that depth. He feels like a grenade with the pin pulled.

Categories : Musings

96 Comments»

  1. Mike Myers says:

    well, no one got hurt yesterday. so theres that.

  2. Kosmo says:

    1) Yanks will eventually need an impact bat vs LHP
    2)Key word is “theoretically“
    3) Kinda agree
    4) he terrifies me,auch

  3. JLC 776 says:

    IF the season looks lost after a few months, I just hope we’re willing to let a few of these cast-off rentals loose and a few of the guys down on the farm up – assuming they’re close to ready.

    I’m not going to enjoy watching Vernon Wells bat .250 for a losing team, but I will enjoy rooting for a Melky Mesa or a Tyler Austin (I’m just throwing names out – my larger point stands).

    • MannyGeee says:

      I think Vernon Wells is going to make you eat your words.

    • mitch says:

      I agree in theory, but I wouldn’t want them to rush any of the real prospects. If you want to replace Francisco with Mesa or Almonte, fine. Guys like Austin and Heathcott should only be moved up when they’re ready, regardless of what’s happening with the Yankees.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’ll enjoy rooting for Tyler Austin…..when he’s ready. I wouldn’t enjoy him being called up too early and needing a bathroom buddy in the outfield, early Melky style.

      I’m not sure I’d enjoy a team in which Melky Mesa is getting everyday play time.

      • JLC 776 says:

        I really do sincerely mean “if they’re close to ready”. Baseball is littered with the corpses of fine talent prematurely promoted to the bigs.

        But that’s also why I kind of stress that I’m just throwing out names and that my bigger point is that it’s more fun to root for the future than for one-year hole-pluggers.

  4. Slugger27 says:

    you can get to the playoffs as an all-hit/no-pitch team…. No-hit/all-pitch though? It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure early tee-times in October.

    evidence? link?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Anecdotal. There hasn’t been a pitching/defense team to reach the playoffs out of the AL in forever.

      • mko says:

        But I can think of a few in the NL, namely Padres and Giants…

        • mko says:

          I would rather see pitching than hitting, but it is tough to imagine in the AL East.

        • JLC 776 says:

          The 2010-2012 Phillies were pretty much all-in on pitching and would be somewhat decent on offense if it weren’t for Yankee-esque injuries to their stars. Of course, the 2010 and 2011 team made the playoffs, but suffered complete power outages (sound familiar?). Now they’re stuck with a team with solid but aging pitchers, expensive and aging bats, and a depleted farm that was used to acquire much of the above.

          But they did have the good sense to flush some of the contracts last year.

      • Slugger27 says:

        mike, we just had one win the al west last year….

        it just seems like something youre saying just cuz youre frustrated even though it makes no sense. you always say a run saved in the field is as valuable as a run created at the plate. except when it isnt, i guess.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          Now you’re putting words in my mouth. I never said that.

          • Slugger27 says:

            i may be paraphrasing, and the words might not be EXACT, but youve certainly said a run saved on defense is worth a run created on offense before. plenty of times. why youd lie about it, i have no idea.

            anyway, i gave you an example of an all pitch/no hit team to make the playoffs. funny enough, it happened a few months ago. so there goes that theory.

            • Mike Axisa says:

              The Athletics who hit 195 homers were a pitching and defense team?

              • Slugger27 says:

                they scored 713 runs and had an OPS+ of 97. they gave up 614 runs, good for an ERA+ of 114, 2nd in the AL. theyre a pitching and defense team by almost any standard. in my opinion, that youre even arguing the 2012 As arent an example of a “all pitch/no hit” team making the playoffs shows extreme stubbornness.

                cherrypicking their home run total as a reason they werent a pitching and defense team is beyond lame.

              • Craig Maduro says:

                Despite their home run total, how are they not?

            • Bubba says:

              While it has been said on here (maybe by Mike, I don’t know), Mike has definitely said creating a run happens far more frequently than saving a run which I happen to believe is true.

              • Slugger27 says:

                well of course, yes. but the point is that its a 162 game season and its certainly plausible a team built on pitching and defense (run prevention, essentially) can make the playoffs.

          • Craig Maduro says:

            Not to stick my nose in this argument, but I have definitely read that a run saved is as valuable as a run produced on here. Can’t say for sure it wasn’t a different author, but it’s definitely been said on here.

      • Ron Hassey says:

        Ummmm….last year’s Oakland A’s….

      • Ron Hassey says:

        The Rays have been a perennial playoff team the last 5 years. I would hardly call them an offensive juggernaut….but they do have outstanding pitching.

        • Tom says:

          The A’s were tied for 6th in the AL in wRC+ Why do folks keep calling them a “no hit” team?

          The Rays?(using wRC+)
          2012: 5th in the AL
          2011: 4th
          2010: 5th
          2009: 2nd
          2008: 4th

          Maybe not an offensive juggernaut by Yankee hitting standard but they’ve been in the upper half of offensive teams for the last 5 years.

          Mike was saying no hit… which would imply bottom of the league. He didn’t say average hitting teams can’t make the playoffs.

  5. Vern Sneaker says:

    You’re right on this, Mike. RABers like to accuse negative commenters as “doom and gloom”-sayers, but there’s nothing inappropriate about just pointing out obvious specific important deficiencies. Our offense is weak, period, and is unlikely to improve much with the current cast. Grandy will add HRs, and that’s good, but Jeter and Tex are big question marks, Jeter for obvious reasons and Tex because I think his injury will be hard to heal for offensive production purposes even if he doesn’t need surgery and gets back in the lineup before June. So on days when the pitching isn’t at its best we’re not going to beat good teams with any regularity. That’s not doom and gloom, just the probably reality even if they had won yesterday.

    • Slugger27 says:

      RABers like to accuse negative commenters as “doom and gloom”-sayers, but there’s nothing inappropriate about just pointing out obvious specific important deficiencies.

      its not that it isnt accurate, its just some of us are sick of reading about it everyday. we KNOW the offense is taking a step back this year. its been beaten into my head on this site and in the MSM every day for 3 months now. some of us are just ready to enjoy another baseball season and hope that things work out even though they dont look good on paper.

      • Bob Buttons says:

        This.

        Besides, from what I see, doomers and gloomers are actually the majority.

        • trr says:

          I agree Slugger, but sometimes people are just venting their frustrations. Not all critiques should be categorized as doom and gloom. I’d like to think there’s room for everyone’s opinion here. Me, I’ve been a fan of this team for almost 50 years now, yet I’m still able to learn more from reading some of the posts here.

          Bottom line is this is the team we’ve been dealt; right now there are no major upgrades to be made. So we can bitch how we should’ve done this or that over the winter, but hindsight is always 20/20. We know that there is help coming when the injured returned. Will it be enough? Don’t know, do we…that’s why they play the games.

          Thanks All!

  6. MannyGeee says:

    Boone Logan scares me less than others. I think his arm is going to fall off eventually, sure. But if we were having this conversation about CC Sabathia I would be legit concerned.

    Booney being a LOOGY (albeit an effective one, and also he can get weaker RHBs out) means there is plenty of backup for him.

  7. -V- says:

    “Ineffective Offense?”

    What do you call the offense last year in the post season?

    What do you call a Yankee team without Granderson, Jeter, and Teixeira?

    What do you a Yankee team going up against Boston’s ACE pitcher?

    This Yankee loss falls on the shoulders of CC Sabathia, who pitched very ineffectively. Not the Yankee offense, so much.

    • LK says:

      If you only score 2 runs, the loss is at least partially on the offense, I don’t care what the mitigating circumstances are.

      • Sayid J says:

        Agree to a certain extent. Obviously the loss is partially on the offense. But if you score two runs against the opposition’s ace, with your ace on the mound, you expect to be winning/tied/in the game.

      • trr says:

        True, but it’s hard to win when your staff gives up 8 runs.
        Yesterday was a team failure. It was one game. There’s another one tomorrow.

  8. LK says:

    I didn’t get to the podcast until yesterday evening. Listening to Mike and Joe discuss how there’s no way Girardi should be hitting Nunez second, even against lefties, was some combination of amusing and terrifying.

    • trr says:

      Girardi has this thing about lefties hitting back to back agianst LH pitching. I’m not that high on Nunez, but he is our SS…for now.

  9. paulc says:

    Not at all trying to be negative…not my style…but the reality is we have lost 6/9 of our line up not counting bench parts…The whole Hal plan is going to be the theme to the year…It will be a rough one for us Yankee fans…Now is rough 80 to 90 wins and getting in as a wildcard? if so, i would take it. Just need to keep it real and understand where this team is at right now…again, i put it on Hal…Boone—man, he will be DL bound soon…CC–lets get it back. Joba-just not good. Offense–ugly on paper and going to be a tough haul.

  10. The Doctor says:

    So few people left by that point that I can actually see myself in the picture…

  11. Manny's BanWagon says:

    The pitching is gonna have to be pretty lights out for the Yankees to be successful because the offense is just piss poor at least until hopefully the reinforcements arrive. Until then, they’re probably gonna lose most games when they give up 4+ runs.
    Mike’s right about it being just brutal watching a team that can’t score runs. After that 4 spot in the 2nd inning, it felt like the game was essentially over.

    • jjyank says:

      I’m usually the guy beating the “it ain’t over till it’s over” drum when watching games, but I’m not gonna lie, deep down I felt the same way after the Sox scored those 4 runs.

      • johnnybk says:

        I didn’t feel it that early, but by the 7th I was pretty confident a nap wouldn’t make me miss anything I wouldn’t want to anyway

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I felt the opposite. I thought the team could certainly come back and that some chances that hadn’t gone the team’s way could have led to a very different result. It was the Joba/Robbie show that made things depressing for me.

  12. I was at opening day yesterday and the second the Red Sox scored those 4 runs it was like the entire building deflated. Also many people were dressed for Sunny and 60 not rain and wind and 40′s. When Joba and the stache came in and blew the game open is when I left. No need to sit there in the cold and watch the team suck. Disappointing day overall (except I went to MSG and watched the Rangers win afterwards but that’s aside the point)

    Biggest chage in the ballpark I saw was that now in the fried doe stand on the lower level no longer serves deep fried twinkles since they don’t exist any more, but now offer a pizza fritter with toppings. Not sure what that was but I will try it next time when I go on Thursday.

    Also this is more of a technical question. I usually go on RAB on my ipad and it used to store my log in information on comments and no longer does, I was playing around in setting s a couple of weeks ago and I must have done something, An advice to fix this? Typing in my log in info every single time is a real pain.

  13. Also I know it’s only one game but, if Joba continues to pitch like this it’s going to make the decision to DFA Aardsm look really stupid.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Let’s see what Kelley does. Hell, let’s se if Aardsma clear waivers.

      The bullpen does “feel” a ton shorter without Aardsma, whether that’s reality or not.

  14. YankeeUnderground says:

    Time for a Regime Change.

  15. Nathan says:

    All hit no pitch? Really? Do you remember the pre-2009 Yankees? AHNP worked in the regular season because there were more games to hide the individual slumps that occurred throughout the lineup. That and the fact that the Yanks frequently teed off versus middle relievers and lesser starters.

    Once we hit the playoffs, it all went terrible because we got shut down by the aces.

    Our strength thus year is pitching, and that’s a formula for playoff success. We won’t win as much during the regular season, but just wait and see how the lineup gels when our walking wounded all come back.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      We won’t win as much during the regular season…

      Which means no playoffs. Funny how that works.

      • Nathan says:

        Yep, and it’s unfortunate that this year’s Yanks took it to the opposite extreme and have no hit whatsoever. Hopefully we’ll make the playoffs, but until then it will be a long and hard struggle

    • jjyank says:

      I still have this bookmarked: http://riveraveblues.com/2012/.....nt-4359965

      The problem isn’t that the Yankees couldn’t hit aces. They hit aces just fine in the regular season, I see no reason why that would change in October.

      I’m not saying that all hit, no pitch teams are the way to go. I’m just saying that I don’t believe for a second that it doesn’t work because they’ll get shut down by aces in October.

      • Nathan says:

        If the Yanks did that so well why did they fall without putting up a fight against Detroit last year?

        Look at it from a chances standpoint – each individual batter gets only a few chances each game. if he screws up, he doesn’t have many chances to make up for that. Now granted, there are many more chances for a pitcher to screw up, but the flip side of that coin is that there are more chances to stabilize themselves and get into a groove. There’s time in the regular season to do that, but there’s no time in the playoffs to get that established.

    • itsathing says:

      How is the same rotation, but a much worse lineup a recipe for playoff success?

      • Nathan says:

        Well it’s just more that pitching will carry us through the playoffs. Not saying that this year’s Yankees are better than past years… that’s clearly not the case. If we can make it there, we’ll do well, that’s all I’m saying.

    • Guns says:

      but just wait and see how the lineup gels when our walking wounded all come back.

      This same lineup, now minus Swisher, Martin and Ibanez, certainly didn’t magically gel last postseason. They set records for offensive futility.

  16. Bavarian Yankee says:

    It’s just 1 game so far so it’s hard to really complain about something. The pitching will be way better and the hitting will be better too.

    btw: I was really annoyed by the new YES camera angle behind the pitcher. Didn’t like it at all. Sometimes you couldn’t even see the catcher’s signals.

  17. mt says:

    Hafner is so huge in terms of whether we have at least a solid line-up against righties. I am not expecting a lot from Overbay.

    The line-up against lefties is not good (still having to play both Ichiro and Gardner and also having the likes of Francisco and Nix on field). I do not like Nunez at 2 but wonder who else could slot up there. At least we do not see Doubront this series.

    I totally agree that watching a team that cannot hit is terrible but there is nothing worse than seeing a team blow late inning leads time after time – Yanks have not really seen this over the last 15 years for any stretch more than Mo’s two bad weeks per year but constant bullpen blowups are the worst.

    Cano should be interesting as the anchor of this team – if Yanks falter early, will he be someone who can rise above the negativity, bad press and pressure and still perform?

    Unfortunately, I also think Boston bullpen can be pretty good – I think we all wer blase about Hanrahan acquisition because his walk rate was high but since I don’t watch NL much I did not know he also threw so hard. Bailey at set-up at 95, Hanrahan at 97 and lefty Miller at 98 is pretty good (not to mention not having to rely so much on Bard when and if he piches) – velocity can cover up a lot of mistakes during short one inning stints (witness Miller blowing everybody away after 2 walks). Also Uehara and Tazawa are basically unhittable against righties.

    CC had a bad game – the real test for this team will be when and if we do get a good pitching performance (say, 3 runs from starters and relievers) – can offense score 4 runs and will our defense at times leak a run or two it can’t afford to?

    • MannyGeee says:

      ” At least we do not see Doubront this series.”

      That sentence bums the shit out of me. Because you’re right. And because Doubront sucks. Alot…

  18. Robinson Tilapia says:

    1. Yeah. Good thing this isn’t the intended permanent lineup, though.

    2. Couldn’t disagree more. While Upton would be nice for, really, any team, this team’s needs run deeper than that and no one player, to me, is worth gutting the farm for. We’d still be running band-aid types out there, even with Upton, only there’d be less young players to look forward to in filling those spots. Does the team need a young impact hitter? Yes. Do they have one? No. Do we hope we’ll be singing a different tune in about 18 months? Yes. Does shit happen? Most definitely.

    3. I’d rather watch a team that can pitch but struggles to get runs across. I get far more pissed off at a team blowing leads than a team struggling to get runners home. I agree, though, that hit-first teams have done better in the past 20 years or so, which probably means 30 years since I’ve lost track of time and can’t believe Ron Guidry is 60 years old, since it reminds me I’m approaching my last birthday in my 30′s. Get off my lawn, Horace Clarke, Chuck Cary, etc.

    4. Boone scares the living fuck out of me. I fully expect him to wake up and find his arm on the floor, Joel Zumaya-style (but without the 200 MPH fastball) one morning.

  19. the Other Steve S. says:

    Please welcome your 2013 “New Faux Yankees”

  20. Gonzo says:

    I guess the one thing that stuck with me was that at-bat by JBJr where he worked an 0-2 count into a walk. That was rough.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      No clue whether to tip my hat to him or to wring CC’s neck for never doing well on Opening Day.

      • Gonzo says:

        I said in the game thread that I don’t think CC walks him later in the season. Hope that’s true.

        • MannyGeee says:

          Hopefully its because he just plunks him and saves on the pitch count.

          And you know what? I ain’t even trying to hate on Bradley. Seems like a good kid by all accounts. But I have had an ass full of The New Phenom. I am figuring about 3 weeks before we see a pink Bradley Jr shirsey.

  21. johnnybk says:

    As for the no hit/all pitch- if nothing else at least runs can be manufactured, and line up re enforcements seem to come cheaper than pitching during the year.(at least to my eye) I don’t want to watch 80 games like yesterdays either, I just think the line up is easier to fix. Whether it happens, who knows

  22. LarryM Fl says:

    The Perfect Storm has fallen upon the Yankees. Injuries, no prospects available, old players with big contracts and the CBA this is the plight of the Yanks. It will take some time to fix the issues with younger call-ups or trades. Also the Yanks need to make the tough decisions on who do they play for the benefit of the team, fan base or pocketbooks. Some of these decisions are one and the same and will be based on returning players and their ability to play to their contracts.

    I think the Yanks once the lineup with Granderson, Teix. and the presence of Jeter in the lineup will be OK. It will be a mediocre to good club with more player changes into 2014. It may not be entertaining at times but it will be different from what the modern Yankee fan is use to. The old timers know about these transition periods.
    We need to develop another core from within our system which will be aided by some higher draft picks during this mediocre to good period from the minors and future draft picks.

    As far as the game yesterday it was better than it appeared but CC was not kicking the gun to over heat but it was a typical early start from him. I believe the Yanks will be OK . I can not pick them as a top playoff pick but stranger things can happen. Such as injury bug or under performing players on the other clubs. There are plenty of games to play.

  23. Big James says:

    I blame Hal. This entire situation is a direct result of his avid cheapness. MLB should repossess the franchise asap.

  24. JobaWockeeZ says:

    I’m conflicted on Upton. For starters the reason why we have a weak team outside of injuries is that we don’t get value from our farm. Joba, Hughes, Montero were all top 10 prospects at one point and we haven’t reaped any elite benefits. Then there are the very good prospects like IPK or AJax who could’ve helped long term.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      He’d be nice to have, but at what expense?

    • T says:

      Could have helped, but everyone’s thirst for “superstars” forced us to trade them. Now we have Granderson, a guy who some people feel can’t even play center anymore and we cant trade before he hits the market. Let the team phase these expensive contracts out and build the farm. Stop bitching (the greater chorus, not you Joba) about we need hitting and realize that all these vets that dont work out are ruining our future.

  25. rogue says:

    Response to #1: There is no in-house solution for this lineup. Jeter and Tex (if they do come back) are another year older and are in decline. Tex isn’t that far behind Alex in the albatross meter.

    Response to #2: That falls on Cashman. On the one hand, we have a dreadful lineup to go along with a $230mil payroll. OTOH, we have a weak farm system that not only fails to produce successful MLB players (Hughes and Nova are not successes) but falls short of supplying adequate trade chips for players like Upton.

    Response to #3: I disagree. I’d rather see a pitching duel over cheap offenses in band box stadiums. Give me great D and great pitching any day. Not only do I like seeing it, it’s what wins in the playoffs.

    Response to #4: Who cares. Logan is the least of this team’s problems. Now that Verlander and Andrus are off the market, the FA classes over the next 2 years are diminished. Since the luxury tax, teams have become smarter and more comfortable re-signing their key assets. Since the Yankees can’t develop players or create significant trade value from their farm system, the future (and the present) doesn’t look promising.

  26. Cuso says:

    Man, look at those stands.

    On Opening Day!! I know it was the 8th inning and I know the weather was terrible.

    But while one can disagree to the degree of how meaningful that image is, you cannot disagree that that scene actually occurred (again, on Opening Day).

  27. Is not Tampa Bay the most obvious all hit no pitch team? What about the 2001 D-backs who beat us in the WS? Does anyone even remember their starting line up. They essentially won with two pitchers. How about the Koufax/Drysdale Dodgers? They were like Snow White and the seven dwarfs. And the ultimate AHNP team was right in NYC: the 1969 Mets.

  28. mustang says:

    I couldn’t disagree with #3 strongly enough.

    “Also, you can get to the playoffs as an all-hit/no-pitch team. The Yankees have done that a bunch of times ”
    Yes, but what have they done once they got there?

    I don’t know what playoffs you been watching, but teams that have succeed in MLB playoffs lately have done it with good/great pitching and timing hitting. Can’t even remember the last time a team hit there way to championship.

  29. Joey Mick says:

    I’ve been saying it all off-season. With the way the Yankees wanted everyone to take advantage of the short porch in right, they failed to realize that all you need to do if you’re an opponent is throw your lefties.

    If by the grace of God they make the playoffs, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see teams set their rotations to optimize their lefties. If you want a sure fire way to beat the Yankees, you throw your left-hander.

  30. Yankee Underground says:

    It’s time for the Steinbrenners to go. They’ve cursed the team. They showed where there priorities lie, when they plundered Old Yankee Stadium and build to statues to themselves, and that arrogantly disrespectful ‘plaque’ in Monument Park. End the Curse.

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