Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Blair Yankee Witch Project

For some, the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, forever and ever, time and again, another and another, again and again - you know, repeating the same thing - after it has consistently failed. On that note, let us savor these recent words on Greg Bird from the renowned Yankee in-game strategist, Aaron Boone:

“In some ways, he never got all the way back physically to, I think, where he’ll be next year. I think there’s a realistic chance he comes into spring training next year, physically in a really good place with a chance of a normal off-season where he gets his body where he wants it. Hopefully the results from that will follow. He’ll have his opportunities. We’ve never lost sight of the fact that when he’s right, can really hit.”

So, yeah, here we are, folks. Lost in the forest, once again. See that downed tree? We passed it yesterday. We've been walking in circles. Do your feet hurt? Let's walk faster.

So, yeah, maybe Greg Bird will turn it around someday... like he turned it around last October. He was our best hitter for a while. Then he came to spring training this March as our everyday first-baseman. Then he hurt his foot.

The foot. Cries the banshee voice in the wilderness: Beware the foot of Gregory Birrrrrrrd! It always seems to be the foot. If he could play on a peg, he'd be an all-star. But if we know anything, it is that Greg Bird's dogs are prone to barking.  

So, instead of Bird, we can ponder Luke Voit, who very much resembles the Greg Bird of 2015 - a guy who bursts upon the scene for one glorious month, and then... well, we don't know.

Listen: I'm not saying the Yankees should trade Greg Bird for a sack of peanuts and the ending to Lost - you never know - but can we realistically hand first base to Voit in spring training? A former football linebacker, Voit plays first base like a current football linebacker. And the Yankee infield that not long ago looked set for a generation - remember the dynasty that was to start this year? - is a jumbled mess of question marks. 

Well, this we know: Next month, Bird will turn 26. Next year, he will be coming off a 2018 season batting average of .199. (His lifetime average: .214.) His WAR is -0.6. His on-base percentage was .286. He struck out 78 times in 311 plate appearances - about one in four. At some point, you must accept that Ike Davis is Ike Davis, and the very real chance that Bird is going to ever hit, he will be a Steve Pearce journeyman type, ascending in his thirties with his third or fourth team.  

So, Boone is just saying what he always says: Nothing. He loves to do nothing, too. He stood pat in the ALDS - (not to be confused with Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS) - and left CC Sabathia in until the wine went flat. Oh well. It's going to be a long winter. It's already started two weeks earlier than expected. We are lost in the forest. See that old house? Let's go inside...


Anonymous said...









apoorplayer said...

I like to lick my wounds in private, so now, after a few days of inconsolable depression, time to get back on the horse. It is a crisp clear day with the sun peeking out; I have plenty of coffee, time, and a much clearer head.

The end-of-season presser can be summed up in one sentence: Oh, well, just once of those things. This, in a nutshell, is the entire management problem. They believe they are on the right track. They believe they have the right personnel. It was all really just a shrug-of-the-shoulders what-can-you-do run of ill luck that brought them down.

And you know what? In some measure they are right. It was a Tale of Two Yankees. The first half (as well as last year's playoff run) showed the promise of this team, The second half exposed the weaknesses that have to be addressed. I was cautiously optimistic the first half, trying not to lay too much expectation on this team (and let's face it, we raucous Yankee fans do tend to lay it on thick with the expectations) because, if you recall, they were really ahead of the timetable just a bit. My caution was justified by the second half, which was a wasteland of low productivity and injuries.

Luck always plays a huge part of a 162-game season, and we had a lot of the bad kind. Montgomery, Judge, Sanchez, Frazier, Chapman and Bird all had major injuries. Stanton proved erratic. Gray and Severino went south. Tanaka and CC lived on the edge. The bullpen was weaker than expected. While Torres and Andujar clearly broke out, the rest of the farm team did not make any impact at the major league level. The trades made were merely extra bailing hands to keep the ship from sinking faster than it was - useful, but not potent enough. Ultimately, because the ship was both rudderless and captainless, at the end it sank fast, as all sinking ships do.

What now? In my mind, there is one solution and one solution only - fire Aaron Boone and his hapless coaching staff and get a bona fide 21st century baseball manager in there. When Girardi was fired (Binders - took me a while to get that), I thought Cashman was going to go out and find an A.J. Hinch clone to handle the team he had built. He didn't. He went out and got a broadcast booth clown (watch me imitate hitters!!), and I for one was stunned. It was at that precise moment I thought we were doomed.


Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

They are not gonna fire Aaron Boone in 2018, or 2019. Or perhaps even 2020. Forget about it!

...unless the team goes 72-and-90 in '19. Wanna bet that way?

Boone is't going to improve, either. I haven't watched every single major league manager for every second of every game, but my impression is -- if you've watched a guy manage for some of 162 games, and he's done (basically) the same Effing thing most of the time, THAT IS HIM.

His management of the pitching staff won't get better, either. They're keeping Larry R.

So please help me to put such thoughts out of our collective mind.

BIRD: The reason I was happy to see him do well -- happy for my team -- is that we had a lot of RH bats, and he hits L. This was the case BEFORE the age of Stanton (which, make no mistake about it, we are now in, and will stay in). It was also before Hicks came on, in terms of productivity. And before I was sure we could count on Didi (which, apparently, we cannot, at least for some months to come).

If you're gonna hope on 2019, don't waste your time thinking about Greg Bird. Consider how Stanton can earn 687 ABs next year (his '18 total) and strike out like 115 times, instead of 211. That would help one heck of a lo

And: It would also help if Aaron Judge could keep his vulnerable body parts out of the way of fastballs.

HoraceClarke66 said...

APP, a more measured look at the season than I tend to be prone to, which is great. But I'm afraid Joe FOB is right.

Talk about the Blair Witch Project: we'e back to the same old conundrum not just with Bird, but in general.

Boone is bad—but Boone goes nowhere as long as Coops is still in place. Coops is terrible—but Coops goes nowhere as long as Hal is still running the team. Hal and his entire family are awful...but why would they ever sell this cash cow?

I always hate those political idiots who are hoping for things to get worse so there will be a "revolution," and paradise will be achieved. And I don't want to see the Yankees lose as much as they would probably have to for the Steinbrenners to sell.

But I don't know how things improve otherwise. I think our best hope is that we keep at that "championship caliber level" and get an occasional 2009, where everything goes right. But so much for our dreams of dynasty.

apoorplayer said...

Will Cashman fire Boone? Not right now. The choice was risky, and Cashman is not the type of a guy who likes to admit mistakes. In truth, after the playoffs, I think Cashman is having second thoughts, and I think deep down he knows he fucked up, but he is keeping those hidden for now.

As I have said before, the problem is not the talent. The problem is management and coaching of this talent. You can talk all you want about who has to stay and who has to go, but in the end, this team needs a manager they can respect. I think the players like Boone, but I am not sure they respect Boone. There is a difference.They know Boone is inexperienced, and clearly they now know he failed them in the clutch. The young players need a guy to look up to and respect for his accomplishments in the game; the veterans need the same. Boone is not that guy.

The problems with the Yankees are many, and they are now a team that is floundering and leaderless. Their season was not what they expected, and they crashed upon the hard shores of a long and demanding baseball season. So what now? Given that nothing will be done about management, here are my thoughts.

Priority 1 - Shore up the starting pitching. The mystery of Severino needs to be solved, and again, I think it's more of improving his mental approach along with a tweak or two in mechanics. He needs to move beyond throwing to pitching. Sign Happ and Corbin, let CC go. Tanaka remains. See what Montgomery, Sheffield, and the rest of the young crew bring to the table and let them duke it out in spring training. The bullpen core is OK for now, but Chapman is weakening, so have a successor in place.

Priority 2 - Left handed power. We are too right-dominant for now. This is why we keep hoping Bird will come through. There is not much LH power out there. I would take Bryce Harper only if the Nats took Stanton. However, I might take a flyer on Michael Brantley if we had to overspend on Machado.

Priority 3 - Sign Manny Machado. The guy can flat-out hit. In Game 1 of the NLDS, he not only hit a bullet HR to left-center, he also took a two-strike approach and drove in 2 runs with a little flick of his bat just over the infield. If he were in the #3 slot with Judge at #2, he is invaluable protection for Judge. Perhaps this should be #1.

Priority #4 - If we can't move him, then get Stanton straight. The man doesn't know how to be loose. His swing is all muscle, and is far from smooth, and he really doesn't know how to plan for an AB. He needs to see baseball for himself in a completely different way. He needs a "baseball life coach."

So endeth my post-playoff-flop thoughts. It will be a challenging off season for this team. Hearts have been shattered, minds blown, and the Yankees have a long way to go to mend the damage. The Hot Stove will be raging hot this winter.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Steve Pearce? Steve Pearce??? I would pay cash money to see Bird ever rise again to the level of Steve Pearce, our continual tormentor, at bat or in the field.

ALL-CAPS, you were spot on about Bird being the key—that left-handed bat between a couple of right-handed sluggers, whoever they were. But alas, sometimes things just go south like this.

I do think that Bird's value is now SO low that there is no point in trading him even for lottery picks. Let's see what he does have in the spring, and make our decisions from that.

TheWinWarblist said...

Hoss, you are correct. We could trade Bird, but what can you expect to get for a broken down first baseman who can't hit major league fastballs. Sometimes you're forced to hug a prospect. In this case, the hugging is welcome having so much hope and emotion already invested in Gregory.

JM said...

The fish continues to rot from the head down, and the head isn't going anywhere. I don't care what the Yanks do in the off-season, mainly because I know that they'll do something stupid even if it's by omission. They may do a few things right, also, which is what will bring me back to Spring Training. Even if I should know better by now after 50 years of watching this franchise.

Maybe by then this sour, sad, bitter disillusionment, anger, and grief will have dissipated, also. It would be nice.

apoorplayer said...

For the sake of clarity: My opinion is that we sign Machado and Corbin, and sign Harper only if we can move Stanton. Harper is the best LH bat out there, but I think the combined salaries of all three might prove to be too heavy a chain around our necks down the line. Brantley is a cheaper option if he can stay on the field, otherwise a smart trade would be in order. But the Yankee RH hitters have shown some opposite field power, so a power LH bat might not be as big a need as we think.

apoorplayer said...

Winnie and Hoss, what you might get for Bird is a low-level prospect and international slot money. The money may not be insignificant.

Alphonso said...

It doesn't matter who we sign. It doesn't matter who starts. It doesn't matter.

We are not winning the world Series with Boone as the manager.

It just isn't going to happen.

So....adjust your expectations.

Figure we are always going to have our shot in the wild-card and, if we remain successful is sweeping that one-game series, we shall lose to Boston.

Or Houston.

" Blessed he is who expects nothing. For he shall never be disappointed." ( either Alexander or William Pope, I think ).

TheWinWarblist said...

APP I've come to value your posts and look forward to reading your analyses. My comments are frequently driven by raw emotion and tend to be short. Especially because I enter most of them on my phone. And also, primarily really, I'm lacking in rational analysis and discourse. Keep up the amazing dialogue here. Winter is coming.