Thursday, March 28, 2019

Live Blogging The Yankees 2019 Opening Day

The best day of the baseball season is here. It is Opening Day and The New York Yankees will host the Baltimore Orioles. Mariano Rivera just threw out the first pitch! What can be better than that!? It is Masahiro Tanaka against an Oriole team that lost 114 games a year ago. But that Orioles team gave the Yankees more fits than should have occurred. The Yankees need to feast on teams like this.

And the first pitch from Tanaka! A ball. But two ground outs followed and then a single to right. It took a while for Tanaka to put away Trey Mancini, but Mancini's ground ball to the right hit the runner! When is the last time you saw that! Good sign? We'll take it.

Tanaka looked crisp and sharp and hit 93 on his fastball. He looks good. The Yankees are coming up!

Brett Gardner led off and got blown away by the Orioles starter, Andrew Cashner. One out. Aaron Judge lined a single (108 mph) through the right side! Yeah! Giancarlo Stanton lined a single to right. It was hit hard, but Aaron Judge still took third. Here we go! A 3-1 count on Luke Voit. Boom! Three-run homer to dead center! Wow! Miguel Andujar flew out to the wall in left for the second out. Gary Sanchez singled to right. Greg Bird struck out to end the inning. A great start!

I saw on Twitter that Robinson Cano homered in his first at bat for the Mets. That's cool.

Tanaka got a 1-2-3 strikeout to start the top of the 2nd. Another 1-2-3 strikeout for the second out. But then Chris Davis comes up. I have no idea why Yankee pitchers always get behind on this guy. The odds of him hitting the ball are so low. Davis went 3-0. Tanaka fought back to 3-2 and then struck him out. Super inning! Tanaka looks great. Or the Orioles look awful. You choose.

Gleyber Torres hit the first pitch he saw for a single. Troy Tulowitzki is up and I am rooting for the guy. Nuts. Tulo grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play.  Brett Gardner went ahead in the count, 3-1, but flew out to center. He is a quick 0-2.  End of two, Yankees, 3-0.

Tanaka started the top of the third with a ground out to short. Tulowitzki made his first play of the season at short. No problem. Tanaka then struck out Richie Martin who is making his MLB debut. Two out. Cedric Mullins bounced one over Tanaka's head, but Gleyber Torres made a nice running play to retire the side in order. It's time for da Judge.

With two strikes, Aaron Judge put the ball in play and hit a slow roller up the middle and got himself another single. Strikeouts are NOT okay. Contact is good! Cashner got ahead of Giancarlo Stanton, but in a great plate appearance, Stanton took a walk. Men on first and second, no outs with Luke Voit up. Voit walked on four pitches to load the bases. Miguel Andujar grounded into a double-play to short. Aaron Judge scored his second run of the season. Gary Sachez flew out to deep left and the Yankees finish with a 4-0 lead after three innings.

The age old argument comes to mind after that half inning. Do you discourage Andujar's natural aggressiveness and ask him to be more patient, or do you leave him alone?

Speaking of Andujar, Tanaka started the top of the fourth with a fly out and a ground out to second. Then a ground ball was hit over the third base bag. Andujar made a nice play on it and a strong throw that would have beat the runner if he had a decent fielding first-baseman. But Bird could not come up with it while stretching and Andujar was given an error and a runner was on second. A single highlighted the play as it plated the run before Tanaka was able to end things with a fly out to center and Brett Gardner.  I never, ever liked Mark Teixeira. But I sure miss his glove at first.

Greg Bird struck out for the second time. Yeah. Nothing has changed there. Gleyber Torres then hit a smash to third that bounced off the third baseman's chest. Torres was thrown out on a nice play. Tulowitzki then flew out to right.  End of four, Yankees, 4-1.

Chris Davis led off for the Orioles and (Surprise!) struck out for the first out. Sucre flew out to Judge in right (sweet! Get it?). Richie Martin flew out and Tanaka was through five with a 1-2-3 inning.

The Yankees started the bottom of the fifty with walks by Gardner and Judge and are, once again, set up. Those walks finished off Andrew Cashner. Cashner used to be a live arm with huge upside. Now he is mundane with no out pitch. Mike Wright came in to face Stanton. But he walked him and the bases are loaded with no out for Luke Voit. Voit was hit by a pitch to pick up his fourth RBI of the game. Miguel Andujar again flew out deep to left and plated Judge. Judge must lead the Majors in runs scored by now. Heh. Gary Sanchez served one to right but Rickard made a great play on the dive for the second out. Greg Bird looked at a strike right down the middle and then struck out looking to end the inning.

The two first basemen in this game are now 0-5 with five strikeouts and a no-play at first to cause an error and an unearned run. Sterling!  But the Yankees lead, 6-1 after five.

With Adam Ottavino warming in the bullpen, the efficient Tanaka did not seem to need any help. He recorded the first out on a comebacker. Tanaka then got rocked for a hit off the wall in right, but Aaron Judge played it perfectly and held it to a single. So impressive! Tanaka then induced a weak grounder to first. Bird made the safe play at first for the second out. His decision to not go for the lead runner cost the Yankees (and Tanaka) a run as the next batter rapped one to center. It appeared that Brett Gardner did not pick it up and it sailed over his head without even an attempt. Tanaka was taken out and on comes Ottavino to make his Yankees' debut in his home town. This should be fun!

And it was! Ottavino showed some great movement. But the batter did not bite out of the strike zone. The count went to 3-2 and then the new Yankee pitcher froze the batter with a 3-2 slider on the outside corner for the punch out. Tanaka's final line: 5.2 6 2 1 0 5 0. Both runs would not have scored with better defense. It was a good start to the season for Tanaka.

Gleyber Torres took a five-pitch walk to start the bottom of the sixth. Tulowitzki, who reminds me in looks of Fred Stanley, struck out on a foul tip. Brett Gardner flew out to right. Aaron Judge ended his perfect season by striking out.  End of six, Yankees, 6-2.

Ottavino had no problem in the top of the seventh as he struck out two of the three he faced. This guy is going to be fun to watch!

Giancarlo Stanton flew out to center for the first out in the bottom of the seventh. Luke Voit walked to remain perfect for the season. Andujar lined a single to center. Gary Sanchez had a thirteen pitch at bat but finally succumbed to a popup straight up the chute. But the catcher dropped the ball which resulted in a weird double-play to end the inning. Weirdness.  Yankees, 6-2 through seven.

Clarification: The popup was ruled an infield fly rule. But the runners did not stay put and thus were dead ducks.

Zack (notice the "K") Britton is on for the Yankees. A weak popup to center was the first out. Britton then walked Cedric Mullin. Drew Jackson pinch hit for his MLB debut for the Orioles. Jackson grounded to third and Andujar got the force at second for the force out. Kevin Villar singled on the ground through the hole at short. Gleyber Torres saved the day, though, with a brilliant play at second and threw out the batter from his butt. Nice!

Greg Bird was down 0-2 but hit a homer on a sweet swing to right-center. Gleyber Torres struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Tulowitzki drilled a double to left for a double and looked very emotional at second. It was a touching moment. Gardner grounded off the pitcher on a close play at first. Aaron Judge walked on four pitches. But Stanton ended the inning by striking out. End of eight, Yankees, 7-2.

Aroldis Chapman entered the game to finish things up for the Yankees in a non-save situation. He was greeted by Hanser Alberto who beat out an infield single. Chapman then struck out Joey Rickart on a well-located slider. Chapman is only throwing 94 mph. Renato Nunez flew out to center and the Yankees were an out away. A grounder to Torres finished it off and the Yankees had an Opening Day win.

Tanaka and the Yankees start the season, 1-0. Luke Voit starts the season with four ribbies and Aaron Judge scored three runs. A fun first game and the kind of game the Yankees need to play against competition against teams like the Orioles.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Tyler Wade Is Correct - He Got A Raw Deal

Tyler Wade did everything the New York Yankees asked him to do this spring. It was mostly assumed that he was going to be a part of the Opening Day roster. He worked on his offense and posted an .845 OPS for the spring. He played five different positions. He outplayed DJ LeMahieu. He had a higher OPS than Miguel Andujar. And then with a week to go until the start of the season, the Yankees acquired Mike Tauchman, installed him on the 25-man roster and punted Tyler Wade.

Wade said he felt blindsided. In a rare blip on the usual happy Yankees' news front, he said the following:
“It kind of blindsided me,” Wade vented to reporters, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. “I was just trying to get ready because our center fielder (Aaron) Hicks…I don’t know when he’s coming back, so I was just trying [to be] ready for whatever was thrown my way and then it happened.” I didn’t think it was a problem,” Wade told reporters, according to Ackert. “Just the way that I performed this spring, I did everything they asked me to do. I played well. I made the adjustments offensively. Now it’s my defense that’s not good enough.”
I could not agree more. It would be one thing if the replacement for Wade was a homegrown product that outperformed him. It would be another thing if the player brought in has shown glimmers of success as a MLB player. But neither are the case.

It is obvious that Tyler Wade has not yet shown that he can hit in the Majors. His .468 OPS in 133 MLB plate appearances has been insipid to say the least. But this spring showed an inkling that Wade was putting it together and would not be an automatic out. Heck, anytime he hits the ball on the ground he has a chance.

While it is true that Mike Tauchman has put up great numbers in the minors--far better than Tyler Wade to be honest--Tauchman has also not yet shown he can hit MLB pitching. In 69 MLB plate appearances, Tauchman has burned it up with a .468 OPS, the exact same number as Wade! The big difference is that Tauchman got to hit in Colorado so his OPS+ is even lower than Wade's.

Let's be clear here, neither has put up any kind of sample size that would tell us anything. Tauchman is older than Wade. Tauchman is not fast like Wade and so is not as valuable as a pinch runner. And Tauchman's defensive metrics in his short sample size are not exemplary. To also be clear, I have no faith that LeMahieu is going to offer the Yankees very much other than making sure that more valuable hitters spend some games on the bench when they should be in the field.

The Yankees gave LeMehieu a lot of money for some reason. Yes, his second base defense would be valuable if he was going to be the every day second baseman. But Gleyber Torres is there and is a much better player and there is no history of LeMehieu succeeding in a utility role. His spring numbers were not promising.

Tyler Wade got the rug pulled out from under him after having no reason of concern for all of the spring. His spot was taken on the roster by a guy who is not as versatile and who likewise has not proved he can hit MLB pitching. It bordered on cruelty how it all worked out and no one should blame him for speaking out. Wade got a raw deal and there is no other way to describe it.

A Really Dusty MLB Crystal Ball-2019

For many years, this blog had produced an annual "crystal ball" list of predictions for the coming season. Somehow surviving three moves and years of inactivity, a very dusty crystal ball has been once again summoned to bring in the new year. What follows is not your scientific, analysis driven predictions based on playing 2,000 Strat-O-matic baseball games. It is an off-the-cuff look into an obviously hard to clarify crystal ball that has sat in the closet for far too many years:

  • If he stays healthy, Yasiel Puig is going to have a monster year for the Reds, make the All Star team and be in the top five for MVP
  • If he stays healthy, Aaron Judge will top Mookie Betts and Mike Trout for the 2019 MVP in the American League. Judge missed fifty games last year and still had as many WAR (5.1) as says he will have for a whole season in 2019. Wrong!
  • Two of the top three pitchers in NL Cy Young Award voting last year will be in the top three again this year. The one dropping out will be Aaron Nola.
  • The San Diego Padres will be one of the Wild Card teams in the NL.
  • Troy Tulowitzki will see more games played than Aaron Hicks.
  • Matt Wieters will catch as many or more games as Yadier Molina and have a nice bounce-back season.
  • Sticking with the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright will have a swansong season, ala Mike Mussina, and lead the Cardinals to an NL Central Division championship.
  • A lot has to go right for an aging, but talented group of starting pitchers, but the Washington Nationals will edge the Phillies for the NL East title. One of the biggest keys is whether Stephen Strasburg can turn in a star turn this season.
  • The Red Sox will again edge the Yankees in the AL East. Starting pitching is too much of a problem for the Yankees to overcome.
  • The Indians will again run away with a terrible AL Central with only the Twins and White Sox having a shot at flirting with the .500 mark.
  • I do not see the Chicago Cubs making the playoffs. They have an old rotation, an unsettled bullpen and the offense is not as potent as it once was. The Brewers will be a better team.
  • Bryce Harper will hit forty homers and walk more than 100 times.
  • The Dodgers are far from a lock as the NL West champs. Their rotation is banged up with only Kenta Meada being a reliable option. The outfield seems to be a wasteland, Corey Seager has to find his way back. The infield lacks star players not named Justin Turner. Where is the talent?
  • The American League will adjust a bit to Blake Snell. He will be good, but not AS good.
  • But who in the NL West can overtake the Dodgers? The Rockies will take a step back. The Diamondbacks will miss their first baseman. The Giants do not seem a threat. Who then?
  • The Oakland Athletics will take a step backwards. A LOT went right for them last year. That kind of thing doesn't happen very often two years in a row.
  • Thus, alas, the Astros will again win the AL West with probably the Angels finishing second...distantly.
  • The Yankees will break their own home run record. Gleyber Torres will have a better year than Miguel Andujar. Giancarlo Stanton will be better and Gary Sanchez may hit .230 but will hit 30+ homers.
  • J.D. Martinez will take a step back this season. He will be solid, but not quite the force he was last year. Injuries will limit him this year.
  • In a race for the MLB's most losses, the Orioles will again outlast the Marlins due to the amount of games the Orioles play against powerhouse rivals.
  • Umpire Angel Hernandez will average causing 5.3 Twitter rants per week.
  • MVPs - AL: Aaron Judge,  NL: Christian Yelich repeat.
  • CYA - AL: Chris Sale, NL: Max Scherzer
  • Rookie of the Year: AL: Elroy Jimenez, NL: Pete Alonso
  • Manager Of The Year: AL: Alex Cora, NL: Mike Schildt (can I buy a vowel?)
  • Comeback Player: AL: Dustin Pedroia, NL: Adam Wainwright
  • And here is the big one: The players union and MLB will sign a major and new labor agreement that will bring harmony to the game for another ten years.

Enjoy the return of our favorite sport!