Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Yankees Best Laid Schemes...Go Awry

The title of this series of thoughts paraphrases the great poet, Robert Burns, whose words of 1785 still ring true today. Yankee fans had salivating thoughts coming into this season. The team was loaded with talent. The lineup was stacked. The pitching was led by an ace and a free agent brought in with the stuff of an ace. The rest of the rotation seemed solid. Many pundits and predictors positioned the Yankees as the team to beat. This was going to be fun! Wee! But then it started crumbling.

And it started fast. First there was the pitching ace, Luis Severino, who felt something pop in his shoulder before his first spring start. Then there was Aaron Hicks with a funky back. We should have all seen that coming. Hicks has had problems staying on the field his entire career. Is he another Jacoby Ellsbury?

Then the team lost Dellin Betances and that boom-boom-boom-boom bullpen lost a boom. CC Sabathia was always going to be a late start, so that was no surprise. Then the season started and the losses have mounted. Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar went on the disabled list on the same day! The latter might be looking at a season-ending surgery.

Combine it with the TJ surgery for Didi Gregorius and top-pitching prospect, Jordan Montgomery, and the Yankees currently have nine players on the disabled list. And no, I will never call it the Injured List. It has been the Disabled List for generations and Disabled List is what I will write. Sheesh.

So here we are four games into the season and a lot of the wind has already left the sails. One wonders about training in Florida in the warmth and then having to play in the bitter cold of New York City. Would Stanton and Andujar's injuries happen if this scenario had not happened? It is hard playing baseball in the cold. It is akin to playing golf in the cold. The swing is not free and easy. You are wearing layers instead of having free motion. Maybe the season IS too long and expecting teams to play in 36 degree weather is asking too much.

All these players could return and play a significant factor this season. But what if some do not? What if Severino never gets right without surgery? What if Andujar needs surgery and needs to miss the season? Nobody is going to weep for the Yankees or the team's fans. But, man, this is not how we all envisioned it.

If you look back to the most recent championship seasons for the Yankees (2009, 2000, 1999, 1998), you see teams with limited injury situations. Particularly with the starting pitching, the Yankees received 29 or more starts from at least four of its starters in every one of those seasons. The most a position player was lost to the team was typically for 20-25 games. But there were no major losses of talent that drained its fans of all color.

Did you watch the game last night? When Gleyber Torres came up flexing his thumb after whiffing on Gary Sanchez's throw, did you not expect the worse? I know I did. How much do you want to bet that he will be "resting" in tonight's game? By the way, that should have been his error and not Sanchez's. The throw was there and the runner should have been out. Sanchez has made some errant throws but that was not one of them and Sanchez looks MUCH improved on blocking balls in the dirt.

Well...our dreams of a dream season with a homer record and All-Stars at nearly every position have pretty much been dampened. But this team is not done. The Red Sox look considerably weaker as a team and Tampa Bay is not this good. If a couple of the replacements for injured players play well, the team can get through this early part of the season. It is too early to lose all hope.

It is just sad when things do not work out as hoped and players do not get the chance to shine as expected. Warm weather will come and some of the wounded will come staggering back. We will all just have to see how it goes.


I should not be as negative about Greg Bird as I am. So I apologize right up front. But I remember watching the first game against the Tigers and Brett Gardner was on first and Bird was at the plate. Gardner stole second and I remember thinking, "That was a mistake," because it put Gardner in scoring position with Bird at the plate. It also freed the pitcher from really having to worry about what Gardner was going to do. The predictable happened and Bird looked awful striking out to end the inning.  Bird is simply useless with runners in scoring position. Just a small observation in three hours of baseball action.

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