Here’s the open thread for the night. The Orioles and Blue Jays are playing the AL Wildcard Game in Toronto (Tillman vs. Stroman). That’s an 8pm ET start and you can watch on TBS. You can also stream the game on MLB on TBS. Talk about that game, Clippard’s interview, the upcoming offseason, or anything else right here.
Prior to Sunday’s season finale, Yankees manager Joe Girardi held his annual end-of-season press conference, during which he discussed the state of the franchise and where the team is heading in the future. Things like that. The usual, basically.
You can watch the entire 20-minute press conference right here, if you’re so inclined. I compiled what I thought were the most interesting tidbits and grouped them together below. I also added some thoughts, because why not? Here is our annual recap of Girardi’s end-of-season press conference. Brian Cashman‘s is Wednesday. That’s the most important one.
The Youth Movement
- On expectations Girardi had for the kids going into 2016: “I was pretty convinced in my mind that (Gary) Sanchez would help us at some point this year. When you look at Aaron (Judge), I thought he had a possibility of helping. I was not sure about Tyler (Austin) just because — the year before was pretty good — he had some physical issues. He was making a position change. But I’ve been really pleased with the way he’s adapted to first base. I hope he’s going to continue to get better. He works really hard and he’s done some things that at times I’ve been surprised what he’s done for us.”
- Do you have to manage kids differently than veterans? “You manage every group somewhat different because they’re different types of players, but yes. I mean, obviously with (veterans) they’ve been through a lot … You have a history of how they handle those experiences and maybe those slumps. You’re not sure how (young players are) going to react and what they are capable of being, the situation, how they’re going to handle it. But again, you manage differently depending on their strengths and weaknesses.”
- Who is Girardi looking forward to seeing in 2017? “(I’m) most excited to see some guys that I haven’t seen a lot of. I’m not sure who’s going to be in my 40-man roster either … There are some guys I haven’t seen because of the trades we’ve made. And next year could be an interesting Spring Training as a WBC year.”
- On expectations for Gary Sanchez next year: “My hope is the expectations aren’t so large that no matter what he does, he can’t reach those expectations. But I think you can expect a talented player and a good player to go out there and improve.”
The expectations for Sanchez next season will be interesting. Interesting and scary. The kid hit like Babe Ruth for three weeks, and as good as Gary is, it’s completely unrealistic to expect him to do that again. Expectations for Luis Severino got out of control last season. I don’t think that contributed to his poor season, but a lot of fans set themselves up for disappointment by expecting an instant ace.
Hopefully Sanchez can be a middle of the order bat next season. I’m sure the Yankees will count on him to be exactly that. But asking him to be one of the best hitters on the planet again, especially across a full season, is not fair at this point. The learning curve for catchers can be steep. Sanchez hitting, say, .270/.320/.450 with 25 homers in 2017 would make him one of the best hitting catchers in baseball. I also feel like many folks would consider that a disappointment.
- On situational hitting: “As far as the situational hitting, when I said at times we didn’t hit well, that was a big part. Situational hitting with runners in scoring position, we did not do a good job. There are years that are better years than other years, and the teams that score runs are the teams that do really well in that category, and that’s something that we learned last season.”
- On the offense wearing down late in the season: “I mean, guys get beat up physically and they get run down in the month of September, and we’re not the only team that goes through that … Your pitching needs to remain constant and sometimes they have to pick each other up. But you know, there’s definite problems. I feel that this club is capable (of having a good offense). I think they’re capable.”
I’m honestly not too worried about the situational hitting. That stuff is so unpredictable from one year to the next. A year ago the Yankees hit .256/.341/.465 (114 wRC+) with runners in scoring position and this year it was .228/.308/.350 (73 wRC+) even though they had the same damn lineup most of the season. As far as moving runners over and that stuff … if the Yankees start obsessing over that, they deserve what they get.
There’s no need to overthink this. Get as many quality above-average hitters as possible, and let the rest take care of itself. Want good hitters with runners in scoring position? Then get good hitters overall. The correlation is pretty damn strong. The Yankees have gone defense over offense at a few too many positions (center, left, short, third) and it’s dragging down the offense overall. The Yankees don’t need better situational hitters. They just need better hitters.
Luis Severino’s Future
- Is he a starter or reliever? “I think it’s really up to him and the way he pitches. If he’s going to be a starter, commanding the fastball is extremely important. Changeup is coming. Slider is much improved (from earlier this season) … My expectation is he’s still going to be a starter.”
- Does his final role need to be determined soon? “When you look at the way things went down, he was stuck in the bullpen (because that’s where we needed him). He’s fairly young and aggressive. He’s going to make a case. We’re going to work here with him.”
At no point this season did Severino look like a capable Major League starter. Not once. Not in April, not in his brief August cameo, and not in September. He looked great in relief though. That said, the kid will be 23 in February, and it’s way too early to think about a move to the bullpen full-time. Let him start next season. All season. If that means he has to go to Triple-A, so be it.
Severino’s issues are mostly command related. He admitted he lost confidence in his changeup this year, but he has a pretty good one. We saw it last year. He just lost a feel for it. Severino needs to get comfortable with his changeup again, and do a better job locating pretty much everything. The Yankees could let him work on that in the big leagues next year. I say let him earn it. If the command and changeup don’t look good in camp, Triple-A it is. I’m not counting on Severino to be a big piece of the puzzle next year.
The Upcoming Offseason
- On the biggest area of need: “(I will) sit down with Brian and let him handle those questions. You know he is the architect of the team. My job is to get the most out of the players, and I don’t want to speak before we’ve had a chance to talk … The other thing is, you know, we talk about it and the players start to wonder how we think about them, and I don’t think that’s fair.”
- Do they need rotation help? “Well I think we have good players if we stay healthy, but that doesn’t happen very often so I’m sure we will look into that as well.”
Listening to Girardi the last few days, it seems pretty clear he believes the Yankees need to improve everything. The offense, the defense, the pitching staff … all of it. You can’t look at the 2016 Yankees and point to one problem area of the roster. Yes, the offense was the main culprit, but the back of the rotation and the middle of the bullpen were weak too. So was the defense at times. The baserunning too. So bad. So, so bad.
How do the Yankees overhaul most of the roster? Well, plugging in young players is a good start, plus many of the big contracts will soon be off the books. Others like Brett Gardner and Brian McCann could be traded this offseason. The Yankees underwent a lot of change this past season. I don’t think that’s going to stop anytime soon. I think this was only the beginning.
- On Masahiro Tanaka‘s improvement: “What he improved on was the amount of innings and starts, and staying healthy — we’re shutting him down in a sense, if (Saturday’s game) meant something, he would have started — so I think that’s a big improvement. And just keep moving forward in that sense. I thought he played well, and when you can count on 200 innings every year, I think it’s the best thing.”
- On Mark Teixeira‘s final game: “You know, I saw him earlier today and he was smiling and seemed very happy. And I think this day is going to be filled with every type of emotion. I think there’s going to be happiness, there’s going to be sadness, and there’s going to be appreciation for having the opportunity to play this game and to play here and play in front of the fans.”
- What move would Girardi like to do over? “I was asked yesterday about, are there any decisions that I want like to have a chance to redo? I said no because I don’t have hindsight. I make decisions based in real time. I make decisions based on information that I have. And then you have to deal with the human element. So you know, in every play, in every case, you could second guess if you want to.”
- On selling at the trade deadline: “I understood why they they traded veterans away. I mean, we were in a situation where we weren’t getting it done. And I think Brian’s job is (evaluate the team), but he also has to look at the future … As an organization, we thought it was in our best interest to make trades to try and get back to the World Series.”
- Does the World Series or bust mantra need to change? “No, no. I think you should all set your goals. You know I don’t think you should be satisfied with just making the playoffs.”
- Girardi’s message to fans: “We will do everything we can to bring a championship here. That’s everyone’s job in this organization.”
Girardi’s comments on the trade deadline were pretty interesting. He seemed excited about all the young players and also disappointed that the Yankees were forced to sell. As he said, the goal is to win the World Series every year, and the Yankees had to sell because they were far from World Series contenders. Selling was a result of the team’s failure to perform, and ultimately that (or at least part of that) falls on Girardi.
Don’t expect the goal to change, either. Girardi was clear about that. The Yankees are going to try to win next season, even while incorporating younger players into the lineup. Those things don’t always work well together, not unless every position player comes up and hits like 2016 Sanchez while every pitcher performs like 2015 Severino. I’m curious to see what gets prioritized next year, the development of young players or winning.
Here is your open thread for the night. There is no baseball today. No tiebreaker games or anything. The Orioles and Blue Jays open the postseason with the AL Wildcard Game tomorrow night. There’s Monday Night Football tonight though (Giants vs. Vikings), so that’s cool. Talk about that stuff or anything else right here.
Quiz!: The annual end-of-season roster Sporcle quiz is up. You have ten minutes to name all 53 players who appeared in a game for the Yankees this past season. I got 48 of 53, though none of the five I missed were obvious. Not like when I forgot Hiroki Kuroda a few years ago. Two of the five I missed were on the Opening Day roster though, so yeah. Enjoy the quiz.
The Pineda Puzzle
One day after they were officially eliminated from the playoff race, the Yankees flopped in an ugly 8-1 loss on Friday night.
The offense was M.I.A. with just three singles, while going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. It was their 16th game without an extra-base hit, the most in the majors through Friday, and their AL-high 35th game scoring one run or fewer.
It was also their 11th game with three hits or fewer — no team in MLB had done that more this season through Friday — and the first time the Orioles held the Yankees to no more than three hits at Yankee Stadium since August 14, 2007.
Michael Pineda made his final start of 2016, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde performance (5 runs, 4⅓ innings, 5 strikeouts) against the Orioles was a fitting end to Pineda’s perplexing and season.
He finished with a career-best 207 strikeouts (that’s good!) and a career-worst 4.82 ERA (that’s bad!) while going 6-12 in 32 starts. His 4.82 ERA is the fifth-highest by any MLB pitcher ever with at least 200 strikeouts in a season, and his .333 win percentage is the second-lowest among that group.
And that’s not the worst of his puzzling, boom-or-bust campaign: Pineda allowed a whopping .784 OPS this year, the highest in major-league history for a guy that also struck out 200-or-more batters in a season.
Party at Austin’s
The Yankees bounced back from their lackluster series-opening loss with a resounding 7-3 victory on Saturday, preventing the Orioles from clinching a playoff spot on the penultimate day of the season.
Typical of this up-and-down Yankee season, the game featured a number of encouraging signs for the future while also re-affirming some potential concerns heading into 2017.
The bad news? Luis Severino continued his baffling string of disappointing pitching performances as a starter, giving up three runs on five hits before being pulled in the fourth inning. He ended up with a 8.50 ERA in 11 starts, the highest ERA as a starter by any pitcher in franchise history with at least 10 starts in a season.
If there’s a silver lining in Severino’s poor showing as a member of the rotation it’s this: the highest single-season starters’ ERA in MLB history (min. 10 starts) belongs to Roy Halladay, who posted a 11.13 ERA in 13 starts in 2000; three years later, he won the first of his two Cy Young Awards.
The good news? Two of the more unheralded Baby Bombers continued their unexpected trend of clutch hitting performances, with Tyler Austin and Austin Romine fueling the Yankees’ late-game offensive explosion and comeback bid.
Austin knotted the score at 3-3 in the seventh inning with his fifth homer of the season, and the 406-foot blast was eerily similar to each of the others he’s hit in the majors. All five of them have: been at Yankee Stadium, gone out to right-center or right field, and either tied the game or gave the Yankees a lead.
Four of his five longballs have also come in the seventh frame or later, giving him the most go-ahead and/or game-tying homers on the team this season through Saturday. Even more impressive is this feat: Austin is the only Yankee rookie in at least the last 75 years to hit four go-ahead and/or game-tying homers in the seventh inning or later.
Romine then capped off the Yankees rally with a tie-breaking, two-run single in the eighth inning, his 16th hit in 44 at-bats with runners in scoring position this year. His .364 batting average in that situation not only leads the team, but would be the best by any Yankee with that many at-bats in a decade, since Derek Jeter hit .381 with RISP in 2006.
And so the 2016 season comes to an end, fittingly the same way it began, with a loss at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankee bats were shut down by the newest Yankee killer, Kevin Gausman, who dominated the Yankees this season with just five earned runs surrendered across 41 innings. Among pitchers to make at least five starts against the Yankees in a season, Gausman’s 1.09 ERA is the lowest since Brewers lefty Mike Caldwell’s 0.99 mark in 1978, when he three shutouts in five starts versus them.
Brian McCann‘s solo homer in the fourth inning was the Yankees lone source of offense for much of the afternoon, and it was a significant one for the catcher, his 20th of the year. He is the fourth catcher (who played at least 50 percent of their games at the position) in major-league history with double-digit 20-homer seasons, joining Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, and Yogi Berra. It was also his ninth straight season with at least 20 homers; among catchers, only Yogi and Piazza ever had a streak like that.
McCann joined his backstop teammate, Gary Sanchez, in the 20-homer club, making the Yankees just the third team in major-league history to have two guys, who played catcher in at least half their games, hit 20-plus homers in the same season. The other clubs to do this were the 1961 Yankees (Johnny Blanchard and Elston Howard) and 1965 Milwaukee Braves (Gene Oliver and Joe Torre).
Combined with Starlin Castro‘s 21 homers and Didi Gregorius‘ 20 homers, the Yankees are the first team in baseball history to get at least 20 homers from four different players, who each played more than half their games at either catcher or the middle infield (shortstop and second base) positions.
And finally, Mark Teixeira closed the book on his 14-season big-league career, walking off the field in the seventh inning to a standing ovation while tipping his cap to the hometown fans.
There are many stats and superlatives that define his legacy as a major-leaguer, but perhaps this one best captures his unprecedented combination of power and defense, which makes him such a unique and special player among his peers: Teixeira is the only first baseman to finish his career with at least five Gold Gloves (awarded since 1957) and at least 400 homers.
Record Last Week: 5-2 (33 RS, 29 RA)
Season Record: 84-78 (680 RS, 702 RA, 79-83 pythag. record), 5.0 GB of postseason spot
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees opened the week with one last game in Toronto, which they won 7-5 Monday thanks to some clutch late home runs. The benches cleared earlier in the game.
- The final homestand of the season started with a 6-4 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday. Mark Teixeira‘s final career home run — a walk-off grand slam — gave the Yankees a 5-3 win Wednesday. The Yankees finished the sweep with a 5-1 win Thursday.
- The last series of the 2016 season started with an 8-1 loss to the Orioles on Friday, which eliminated New York from postseason contention. The Yankees earned a 7-3 win Saturday. The season ended with a 5-2 loss yesterday.
- Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (forearm) did not make his scheduled start Saturday because the Yankees shut him down, though he was healthy enough to pitch. Starlin Castro (hamstring) returned to the lineup last week. Chad Green (forearm) has resumed playing catch. James Kaprielian (elbow) was removed from the Arizona Fall League roster, though he is pitching in Instructional League.
- CC Sabathia wants to pitch beyond 2017 and he hopes to remain with the Yankees. Joe Panik’s name came up in trade talks with the Giants about Andrew Miller.
- The Yankees have three of Baseball America’s top rookie ball prospects. J.R. Graham was outrighted off the 40-man roster.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
One-hundred-and-sixty-two games later, the 2016 regular season is over. The Yankees closed out the season with a 5-2 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon. This season was … interesting. That’s a good word for it. We’ve got all offseason to talk about that though.
Dominated By Gausman, One Last Time
I guess it’s fitting the Yankees closed out the season by getting crushed by Kevin Gausman. They haven’t been able to touch him all season. His pitching line was worse than I realized (7.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) but still, this was Gausman’s worst start against the Yankees this season. The Yankees scored three runs total in 33.2 innings the first five times they faced him.
New York’s first run came the ol’ fashioned way: with a dinger into the short porch. Brian McCann did the honors. That was his 20th home run of the season. McCann has now hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last nine seasons. The only other player to do that is (who else?) David Ortiz. Ortiz is a DH though. McCann did that as a catcher. Impressive. The solo shot came in the fourth inning, when the Yankees were already down 3-0.
The second run came when the game was all but decided. The O’s were up 5-1 in the eighth when Gary Sanchez, McCann, and Didi Gregorius strung together singles against Gausman and Zach Britton. The Yankees did bring the tying run up to the plate at one point, but Aaron Hicks grounded out. So it goes. Not surprisingly, the Yankees only scored two runs in Game 162. They scored no more than two runs 58 times this year. Only the Angels (59) did it more.
Almost Six From Cessa
For only the second time in his nine starts, Luis Cessa allowed four runs Sunday afternoon. Two came on Matt Wieters’ fourth inning home run. Even with that, Cessa was able to get his homer problem under control late in the season. He allowed three homers total in last four starts after allowing eight in his first five. A ground rule double, a fielder’s choice, and a sac fly gave the O’s a 1-0 lead in the third.
Cessa was charged with a fourth run when Wieters hit his second home run of the game in the seventh inning, though Tommy Layne was on the mound for that one. Four runs on five hits and no walks in 5.2 innings was Cessa’s final line. He struck out a career high six. After taking over for the injured Nathan Eovaldi, Cessa gave the club 52 innings of 3.98 ERA ball across nine starts. He also averaged 14.6 pitches per inning, which is pretty darn good by rookie starter standards. I’m looking forward to seeing what Cessa does in 2017.
Mark Teixeira went 0-for-3 in the final game of his career and was removed with one out in the top of the seventh so he could get one final ovation. His pregame ceremony was nice. Nothing compared to Derek Jeter‘s or Mariano Rivera‘s, of course. It was on par with Alex Rodriguez‘s, minus the rain. The Yankees gave him a framed jersey and a base signed by his teammates. Good stuff.
The Yankees had ten hits total, including two each by Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, McCann, and Gregorius. Sanchez and Ronald Torreyes had the others. Sanchez drew the only walk. He had a very nice game to close out the season. One hit, one walk, two runners thrown out trying to steal. By a mile, of course.
Layne was the only reliever to give up a run. Blake Parker, Adam Warren, and Richard Bleier all fired a scoreless inning. Bold prediction: none of the four relievers used Sunday are on the 2017 Opening Day roster. Just a guess. A shot in the dark. Nothing more.
And finally, McCann and Billy Butler raced on the field before the game. Here’s the video. Butler won by a hair. Even though they missed the postseason, I’m going to miss this team. They’re the most fun 84-win club I’ve ever rooted for.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Here are out Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:
The offseason. Pitchers and catchers are four and a half months away. I’m planning to take it easy this coming week, so RAB won’t be updated as often as usual. Next week we’ll kick it into offseason and season review mode. Thanks for reading this year.
Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. MLB.tv is free this weekend, so you can use that watch the last few innings of whatever games are still being played. There’s also the rest of the day’s NFL action. Talk about that stuff and more right here.