Sep
18

Random musings on a Wednesday

By
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

1. As Mike noted in the recap, Andy Pettitte has been the most reliable starter for the Yankees for several weeks now, and it hasn’t even really been close.  On the off chance the Yankees somehow find their way into the play-in game, you’d have to give Andy the nod at this point.  Right?  It’s pretty nuts how the oldest pitcher in the game is basically the stalwart of the rotation once again, but baseball is weird like that.  Plus, as we all know, Andy is a True Yankee™ and knows how to get it done.  (Now if only the rest of the damn team were capable.)  Unfortunately, even if the Yankees manage to squeak into the playoffs, they aren’t exactly geared for a run.  Even in a crapshoot environment, having one capable starting pitcher and Robinson Cano is generally not enough to win a series.

2. I typically don’t put too much stock into a manager’s influence on a team other than the in-game decisions that he makes.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s great that some of the managers are able to deflect the media off the players or deploy a shift appropriately, but ultimately, I’ve always kind of put the burden on the players at the end of the day.  I have to give Joe Girardi some major credit this season though.  He’s had to cope with far more challenges than most of his peers I think.  The team had a disappointing offseason heading into the year, and has been saddled with injuries ever since.  Despite a (-17 run differential, 74-77 Pythag. record), the Yankees have miraculously managed to retain hope of playoff contention (though that’s rapidly fading) late into the season.  Many of us (including me) didn’t see that happening when they were having that awful stretch in August.  It’d be pretty cool if he won the Manager of the Year Award this go around.  Well done, Joe.

3. Last night on Twitter, I somewhat sarcastically stated that the team had more non-hitters in its lineup at this point then hitters.  The more I thought about it though, the more my sentiments kind of rang true.  Here was last night’s lineup along with their respective wRC+.

  1. CF Curtis Granderson (109 wRC+)
  2. DH Alex Rodriguez (131 wRC+)
  3. 2B Robinson Cano (140 wRC+)
  4. LF Alfonso Soriano (108 wRC+, 122 wRC+ since joining the Yankees)
  5. 1B Lyle Overbay (90 wRC+)
  6. 3B Mark Reynolds (98 wRC+, 121 wRC+ since joining the Yankees)
  7. RF Ichiro Suzuki (72 wRC+)
  8. SS Brendan Ryan (45 wRC+, 75 wRC+ since joining the Yankees)
  9. C Chris Stewart (56 wRC+)

Having Overbay batting fifth hurts a lot, though probably not as much as the offensive void that is Suzuki, Ryan, and Stewart.  It’s tough to score runs when five of your players are below-average hitters overall.  I suppose, if there is silver lining to be seen here, it’s that some of these castoffs have been offensively revived a bit since joining the Yankees.  So, kudos to you New York for maximizing talent from sub-par or aging players.  Also, please stop putting the team in the position of having to depend on so many sub-par or aging players at once.

4. This has definitely been the season of “what ifs,” at least for me anyway.  What if the Yankees had a capable catcher all year?  What if CC Sabathia didn’t fall off a cliff?  What if Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira were around all season?  Could the Yankees have that elusive Wild Card spot locked up already if they caught a break, anywhere really?  Possibly.  Probably.  I don’t know.  Unfortunately “what ifs” are just that.  Useless hypotheticals.  That said, it’s incredibly frustrating that in spite of the circumstances, the Yankees have had more than a fair opportunity to make the playoffs.

The Rays and Rangers have gone out of their way to play miserable baseball for weeks now.  Meanwhile, the Orioles and Indians seem to be more than willing to concede their playoff berth as well as they’ve both had plenty of timely losses.  I don’t know where I’m going with this last point other than if the team winds up missing the playoffs – and they probably will – they have no one to blame but themselves.  Unfortunately, as Mike noted in his rant the other day, if they do make the playoffs, it’ll probably further mask some of the more serious underlying concerns surrounding the team heading forward.

Categories : Musings

57 Comments»

  1. Greedy Bastards says:

    “What if the Yankees had a capable catcher all year?”

    What if the Yankees had Russell Martin all year?

  2. Greedy Bastards says:

    What if the Yankees had a complete OF capable of OPSing .700?

  3. Greedy Bastards says:

    What if the Yankees actually knew how to develop talent?

  4. Greedy Bastards says:

    What if the Yankees didn’t rush Joba to the Show?

  5. Greedy Bastards says:

    What if the Yankees booted Hughes to the bullpen last year?

  6. Bling Nit says:

    As much as I hate to say this, I hope the Yanks don’t make the playoffs. The reasons are simple: 1) They will not have much of a playoff run and 2) A playoff appearance in some way vindicates poor ownership decisions.

    • Gonzo says:

      I can’t go with this line of thinking. I’m all for the playoffs.

      You play to win the game. Hello.

    • trr says:

      I disagree Bling. I DO hope they make the playoffs. Both your points may indeed be valid, but as fans we watch all year and hope for the opportunity to compete in the post season. All we want is a chance, however slim, to win it all!

      • Bling Nit says:

        Any playoff run vindicates poor operations by ownership going forward.

        E.g. why are the Yankees so adamant about slipping under the $189 million de facto salary cap? The answer is simple: so Hank, Hal, Randy, etc. can further line their silk pockets. Or, on a more conspiratorial note, so they can ready the team for sale. Hal, speaking like the silver spoon fed child he is, has already expressed contempt at paying players large salaries.

        With the Yanks inability to develop talent, a high salary burden from old/diminishing players, and their insistence on falling into MLB’s Yankee Salary Cap Trap, I don’t see good things from the organization in the near future. I hope I’m wrong.

        • trr says:

          I understand your concerns about ownership, and I think most of us share them to a certain extent. I don’t want to be in the position of defending the Steinburglars, but they have the right to try to live at or under the salary cap. Are they planning on selling anytime soon? Hard to say…
          The team’s inability to develop talent is an extremely troubling and serious flaw; It really held us back this year, as there was little or no MLB ready talent to fill some of the holes. Yes, next year could more of the same, or even worse, but I think there’s a very reasonable chance that we can expect better things beyond that. Meanwhile, Keep The Faith!

          • vicki says:

            i like it. or steinbandits.

          • Kenny says:

            No one denies Steinbrenners the right to live within the 189 and / or to line their pockets. Or, for that matter, no one denies they have a right to be as cheap as the owners of San Diego or any of the other “poor” owners.

            But fans help them line those pockets by paying ticket prices, buying stuff at the concession stands, wearing Yankee shirts, watching YES & buying the Official Ice Cream (or whatever) of the New York Yankees.

            That gives fans the right not only to bitch about their policies, but also the right not to buy tickets, and so on.

            And fans can complain about their management of the legacy from the past, from Col. Jake, from Topping and Webb, and from Ol Man Stein himself. (As we can complain about other managers’ handling of, say, the legacy of GM, GE, or any corporation).

            And they can offer their own analyses of what’s wrong with ownership’s handling, etc. (different from mere complaints). To take a few examples: that they seem to have serious failings at developing MiL talent, or that they have a tendency to hire over-the-hill guys with once (but no longer) shiny names (Ichiro, Wells, Youk). A way of saying: they don’t seem to know how to hire (and, when needed, fire) what the Boss used to call “baseball people.”

            In short, the “rights” of the owners are sort of cancelled out as relevant debating points, by the existence of other rights. Imagine their saying, “Well the fans have a right to bitch.” Of course. But so what?

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          You poor tortured soul.

          I’ve still yet to meet one of these “fans” outside the Internet. Thank God.

  7. OldYanksFan says:

    In the ‘What Ifs’ game, there is only one that has not only killed us, but was totally unexpected. See? See?

    Yup… CC Sabathia is 13-13. If he only pitched to his career norm, he would be more like 17-9. And where would we be then?

    83 and 68. 1/2 game in front of TB and Texas, in the 1st WC slot.
    So with the multitude of shit this team has seen this year (primarily mega injuries), it has been CC that has sunk the Ship.

    How people can blame Cashman and Girardi, I don’t know.
    For the actual talent this team has put on the field, these Yankees have played better than any Yankees team since 2001 (or maybe even further back).

    • Gonzo says:

      The Yankees scored 804 runs last year. They have 619 runs scored this year so far. There is no guarantee that CC would have won 17 games this year even if he pitched exactly the same as last year.

      668 runs allowed this year and 636 runs allowed this year so far.

    • Jerome S. says:

      For the past couple of years now I have heard the occasional cautionary rejoinder, that CC Sabathia was the one thing between the playoff-worthy teams of ’10-’12. That, of course, was hugely exaggerated; without CC they would have fared worse, and the lack of an anchor in the rotation would have made us all seasick, but they would still have come fairly close to where they actually were.
      CC is responsible for CC fucking up, big time. However, this team has gone several years now with CC as the only consistently good starter. I don’t mean that he was just the best in the rotation; I mean that there hasn’t been a “number 2″ or “number 3″* since really 2009. It was inevitable that he would falter at some point (but why so soon?); the question was always whether or not the team would be ready. The team was not.

      * I know those terms are kind of vague; while the Yankees have had good pitchers other than CC in the past four years (Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes AJ Burnett once, Ivan Nova, and of course Andy Pettitte), they were all either too old or fell apart in short order. The rotation without CC would have been hollow, and now that he’s down and out it is.

      tl;dr yeah it is CC’s fault in a way but the team deserves blame too.

  8. Chris in Maine says:

    What if the Yankees had been sellers at the deadline?

  9. Al says:

    Look at the replacement guys from the minors…..none made much of a lasting impact. The offseason and trading deadline do-nothings as well as a lack of talent on the Farm doomed the season. I am so tired of thinking surely “this time out” CC will pitch like last year, Hiorki will find a little extra energy at the end or Hughes cant be that bad again, only to be continually disappointed!!

  10. Gonzo says:

    Wow, Bovada has the Nats’ chances better than the Yankees’ chances to win WS. Never thought that would happen this year. The Yanks have a better odds at the Pennant though.

    Who wants to make a 40/1 wager on the Yankees? Who’s coming with me?

  11. Eddard says:

    1. Absolutely not. You go with Ivan Nova. He’s your ace. Andy would start a division series but of course this point is moot because it’s over.

    2. Managers make a huge difference and it’s clear this ballclub has quit listening to Joe. One day after he gave a “stern” speech in the locker room the ballclub was shut out. They were lifeless last night and that shouldn’t happen in a pennant race. If they’ve stopped listening and playing for Joe then Joe needs to go.

    3. The Gardner and A-Rod injuries were the final nails in the coffin for this ballclub. A-Rod can barely run and Gardner being out makes the lineup much shorter. Overbay ain’t bad as a platoon player and when he’s hitting 7th or 8th but when he’s everyday and hitting 5th it’s a problem.

    4. Even with CC being awful they would have a WC spot locked up if they had Jeter, Teixera, Granderson for the whole year. A-Rod would have came back in August and added to an already good lineup. The Rays and Rangers have just fallen off a cliff so it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t be 4-5 games ahead of these clubs with their regular lineup.

  12. vicki says:

    Could the Yankees have that elusive Wild Card spot locked up already if they caught a break, anywhere really?

    we caught breaks; that’s why our record is so much better than our pythag. monster production from guys like vern and pronk (and frankie brains, briefly) at the beginning of the season was a lucky jump-start, to which we owe our remaining hope for the post-season. however slight.

    • One month of good production from Wells isn’t quite the break I had in mind. Realize, also, that this “break” was a consequence of Grandy’s first injury, which was decidedly not fortunate for the team.

      You’re right though. The Yankees did have a few things go their way which is why they’re above .500 — including a really solid rotation early on and a solid bullpen for much of the year.

      To be fair though, I don’t think they are so much better than what their Pythag record indicates. They’re 5 games better in the win column. That’s why it seems so absurd to me that they are A) still technically alive and B) had more than enough opportunities to bridge the gap for a playoff berth. Then again, maybe it’s because of their roster construction that they can’t make the leap.

      • Darren says:

        pythag, shmythag.
        Breaks, shmakes.

        They are what their record says they are. A team that could end up 4th place in their division, or a team that could still win the World Series.

        Stau tuned.

      • vicki says:

        absolutely true about the rotation and bullpen, in addition to the improbable early offense.

        especially the bullpen. i remember at some point in june noting that the yankees had won every game they’d had a lead in, save one. that’s ridiculous. that’s 2012 orioles’ luck ridiculous.

        yes, five wins. but another way to see it is we’re sitting at seven games over .500, rather than three games under .500.

        i guess i’m saying we’ve had frequent moments of luck in this difficult season. maybe even more than our fair share. for a couple months in the spring it was our offense, especially, performing way better than their true talent. lately, as you noted, it’s been an inability of teams ahead of us to lock it down.

  13. trr says:

    I can’t stop thinking about the 4 games we lost to the Mets. Exactly how the hell did that happen? Also, the 3 games the ChiSox swept from us and losing 2/3 in San Diego. We went 1-9 in those series. If we had gone 5-4 (not much to ask against such lousy teams) we’d be in the lead for the WC and in the driver’s seat with our remaining sched.

    aaaaaarrrgh!

    • mitch says:

      Obviously losing 4 to the Mets was horrible, but that was at a time when their lineup was the most pathetic. They were legitimately one of the worst teams in the league at that point. This was a real MLB lineup against Matt Harvey:

      Gardner, Cano, Wells, Overbay, Adams, Suzuki, Brignac, Stewart, Kuroda

      Vernon Wells was batting 3rd against the best right handed pitcher in the league.

  14. Dick M says:

    We’re just not close to being real good right now and it’s only going to get worse.

    CC is what his record says he is. And we are old at way too many positions. With bloated contracts to boot.

    MLB has leveled the playing field — to the extent that it is now a (front office) game that we do not play very well. Hal and Cash are not up to it. Maybe a sale?

  15. Tom says:

    The more startling offensive stat?

    If you look at average offense at each position on the diamond this is how the Yankees 2013 breaks out (sOPS):

    - The Yankees are above average at 2 positions (2nd, CF)
    - The Yankees are 15% below average at 1 position (LF)
    - The Yankees are at least 20% worse than league average at every other position (RF, 1B, SS, 3rd, C, DH)

    Over the previous 4 years the # of positions the Yankees had a player more than 10 % below average offensively at that position? Zero. (7 out of 9 this year)

    • vicki says:

      this is why there’s a difference between the pessimism many of us have felt most of this season and the despair declared by some doomsayers day-in day-out over the previous four years.

  16. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    What If.

    My favorite words.

  17. Kosmo says:

    should NY be in on Alexander Guerrero the 26 year old Cuban SS ?

  18. Dars says:

    Here is my 2014 Hypothetical and perhaps wishful Yankee roster

    OF: Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Nelson Cruz, Zoilo Almonte, Ichiro Suzuki (release Vernon Wells – with Soriano and Cruz another RH outfielder is not needed)

    IF: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Jayson Nix and David Adams

    C: Brian McAnn, Austin Romine

    Starters: CC Sabathia, Matt Garza, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Dan Haren

    Relievers: Cesar Cabral, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, David Robertson, Grant Balfour, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren

    Ask Jeter to retire – he can’t come back after the injury he had.
    I would not bet against him at 31 but I would at 40. He is done whether he realizes it or not. Trade Nunez and Cervelli for prospect depth and some salary relief. You are spending money on Cano, McCann, Cruz, Garza, Balfour and Haren but you have Kuroda, Pettite, Hughes,Logan, Joba and Mariano off the books plus Youkilis, Jeter, Nunez, Cervelli, Hafner, Overbay, AJ Burnett and Granderson. I think is a much improved team and doable still under the 189 M mandate. I am counting that ARod 211 game suspension will be upheld. That is 116 million $ coming off the books. $220-116=104 +85 = 189 M. We have 85 M to sign Cano (23M), Garza (14 M) Drew (10M) Cruz (15 M) McAnn (12 M) Balfour 7.5 M) and Haren (3.5M).

    • Bo Knows says:

      Nunez and Cervelli make nothing in Baseball terms, there is no salary relief to be had. Also neither one is going to fetch anything, your better off just keeping them. Haren has worse peripherals than Phil Hughes, and your going to trust him who is significantly older with worse injury issues and a declining FB? Also Cruz is in his mid 30′s is going to cost a lot of money and years.

      One last thing, 3 of those guys are going to get QO, are you fine with the Yankees essentially sacking an entire draft to sign more old players to expensive contracts?

  19. ropeadope says:

    Wednesday lineups:

    Yankees

    1.CF Curtis Granderson
    2.DH Alex Rodriguez
    3.2B Robinson Cano
    4.LF Alfonso Soriano
    5.RF Vernon Wells
    6.1B Mark Reynolds
    7.3B Eduardo Nunez
    8.C+ JR Murphy
    9.SS Brendan Ryan

    SP: Phil Hughes

    Blue Jays

    1.SS Jose Reyes
    2.RF Rajai Davis
    3.3B Brett Lawrie
    4.1B Adam Lind
    5.CF Colby Rasmus
    6.DH Moises Sierra
    7.2B Ryan Goins
    8.C- J.P. Arencibia
    9.LF Anthony Gose

    SP: J.A. Happ

    • vicki says:

      that’s about as good as it can get.

      go bombers.

      • ropeadope says:

        Scary that Girardi may have taken Mr. Axisa’s earlier article to heart (although I do agree with tonight’s lineup and your assessment).

        • Betty Lizard says:

          Let us pray drink.

        • Tom says:

          Don’t fall for that trap. With the exception of Murphy, all those changes are lefty on mound = righty lineup.

          The other thing this is, is just a continuation of the personal catcher thing (which of course Girardi doesn’t believe in). Hughes has always been a Romine start in the past; with him presumably unavailable it falls to Murphy. If Pettitte or Kuroda was on the mound, Stewies starting.

          I fear this is simply a continuation of binder rules as opposed to him willfully making changes for offense. Whether he sits Ichiro against a righty will really tell the tale. Whether he gives Murphy a start for offense despite Pettitte or Nova or Kuroda taking the mound would also tell you something.

          • ropeadope says:

            Good points all around Tom. I’d love to see a monster game from Murphy force Girardi’s hand down the homestretch. And I’d love to see Ichiro snap out of his recent funk.

          • vicki says:

            while he stuck with the personal catcher program for a couple months joe did have romine catching pettitte last night, until a late scratch. he’s budging a bit.

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