Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Good Thing The Yankees Can Afford To Give Away Games

Perhaps I should not write this post right now. I should probably wait until I cool off. But I am just so angry I cannot contain myself. I am not a journalist. I don't have to be fair or partial. This is my page. So here it is. Why am I so angry? I am angry because the Yankee manager (probably on orders from above) is all about resting players. And so on any given night, the Yankees can decide that the strategy of resting players is more important than winning the game. I am thrilled that the Yankees are SO confident that they think they afford to throw away games to follow their resting strategy.

The Yankees just lost two key players yesterday. Both were cogs in their powerful lineup. So without Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar, the team is already without two of its best hitters. Gary Sanchez has hit homers the last two games. There has already been one day off this season in between the four games Sanchez has played. Well, the Yankees can afford to give games away, so you might as well rest Gary Sanchez. Right? After all, the stat people calling the shots say that resting players will boost their value output over time.

There is only one problem though. A loss in the standings does not overcome a Win or a percentage of a Win in WAR later on. That L in the loss column is never going to go away.

But Sanchez was not the only one. Greg Bird, who supposedly is a "different" hitter this year, was "rested" as was Troy Tulowitzki. Instead, Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman got to play. Until proven otherwise, they are Triple-A or even Four-A batters. . And, of course, we cannot forget to combine them with Austin Romine.

So you take a team like the Detroit Tigers, a team that will most likely lose 90+ games this season. And you field a lineup that makes you very similar to the Tigers on the field. Nice. Good move. What a joke.

And then you have the bottom of the ninth and you are trailing, 3-1, because your lineup cannot produce anything with those players and with only one chance left in the game, you let both Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman bat!? Incredible.

The goal of analytics should be to make sure your team has the best chance to win. If the decisions are counter-productive to that goal, then there is a problem. Rest a player once in a while. Personally, I do not think it is necessary. But please, for gosh sakes, do not rest them all at the same freakin' time! Despite what your logic tells you, the Yankees are never going to get this loss back.

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.