Monday, August 30, 2021

Suddenly sparkless, the Yanks blow two and face a reality check.

During that luxurious 13-game victory cruise, something happened across the Yankiverse: 

According to the YES-controlled hive mind, the Yankees once again became the "Death Star," fully operational and living up to expectations. We came to expect the big defensive play and/or key hit. Brian Cashman became the tactical genius, the GM who saw a wild card where his critics - us - feared 4th place in the AL East.

Then, beginning Saturday in Oakland, poof: Back to the tired barge of strikeouts, flubbed flies and double-play grounders. 

No problem, we told ourselves. Can't win 'em all. 

Still, last night, you could sense the limpness, like a flashlight with a dimming bulb. WTF? 

I hate to blame Gio Urshela, a fine hitter, a solid 3B and - by all accounts - a great teammate.  But since returning from a tweaked hammy, he's 1-for-13 - the lone hit a single - and showing rust, including a botched grounder last night. 

In two rehab games for the Double A Somerset Patriots, Urshela went 4-f0r-8 with a double. And that was that. Two games. He flew to Oakland, benching the trio - Tyler Wade, Andrew Velasquez and Rougned Odor - who manned 3B during the streak.  

Sunday, Urshela gave Velasquez - the tabloids' Bronx fairy tale -"a Sunday off," according to the YES announcers, as if he'd complained about overuse. In his role as the Phil Linz of 2021, Velazquez hit .255 - 11 points below Urshela, though his speed and hunger brought a dimension we've not seen all year. With Urshela back, all three players will be marginalized.  

As the Yankees were losing Sunday, Gleyber Torres was launching another rehab assignment in Somerset, homering once in three at bats. He's expected to join the team Friday, pushing Velasquez farther onto the depth chart - an occasional pinch runner, not much else.

I get it that Urshela and Torres should keep their starting roles. It's an axiom of the game: The injured player doesn't lose his job. But one certainty has dogged the Yankees this season: Most players return with an ugly slump. They crush the minors for two or three games, then show up in the Bronx to look overmatched. 

Listen: I'm returning from four days of partying with old friends. And frankly, I think we all got drunk during that 13-game streak. So here's a little reality check:

1. We gained no ground on Tampa. Nothing. The Rays have won 7 in a row. And Wander Franco looks like a looming star, if not an MVP. This is bad. This is really bad.

2. We remain a wild card team, which means a one-game, all-or-nothing post-season. For all the despondency among Redsock fans, they are secretly smirking with the notion that Chris Sale could pitch that game. Be afraid. Be really afraid.

3. We just gave Oakland a huge spiritual victory, letting them believe they can beat us. 

4. We still have no closer. Aroldis Chapman goes from intimidator to basket case. Nobody else looks ready to claim the role.

5. The bullpen may be cracking. Jonathan Loaisiga has now thrown 65 innings - more than twice the workload of any other season in his career. (He threw 31 innings in 2019.) Mean Chad Green has struggled for a month. The rest are erratic. 

Tonight, we hand the ball to Cory Kluber, up from two rehab outings where he didn't really look dominant. Is he ready, or did he just not enjoy the accommodations in Double A? 

We better not let this losing streak grow.

62 comments:

13bit said...

Your five points are dead-on.

Forget that axiom that the injured player keeps his position. Ask Wally Pipp about that. Ask Gehrig.

You play the hot hand. You remain flexible enough to make or maintain radical changes.

Misguided loyalty has gotten us in big trouble.

Our only allegiance is to the team, not the indi-fucking-vidual.

JM said...

Shades of 2017--it was 17, wasn't it?--when Cashman and Girardi were forced to finally play the kids when the moribund regulars were out and we went on a tear. Then, the Golems started coming back to reclaim their positions, and we sucked. Just sucked. And everything died.

Gio didn't throw the HR pitch last night, but he looked weird at third. Played in too close, as A-Rod rightly said. No reason for it, he just did. Was he told to? Who knows. But it was a bad idea.

Gallo didn't throw the HR pitch, either, but he made it possible. A really excellent fielder who just botched that liner, which was imminently catchable. Double. Boom, home run. We lose.

Even Rizzo looked kind of lost at first. It was a very strange game. But Chad is a coin flip now, and Lasagna looks a little gassed. We can fix this a bit by returning Nestor to the bullpen, at least for a while, and letting Gil take over as a starter. Or add Gil to the pen and let him earn some stripes down the stretch. Maybe it'll work, maybe not, but it's worth a shot.

We can criticize the dried up offense for the weekend failures, but Oakland wasn't much better. Neither team hit much, which I put down to some very good pitching on both sides. Poor Monty gets no support, though. What did Suzyn say? Nine runs in his last 12 starts? What the fuck?

I've been Mr. Cockeyed Optimist for some time now, but losing those two games while Tampa keeps on winning really dents our divisional possibilities. Even ending the season with the three games against the Rays...well, a sweep there would be just short of miraculous. The only thing we have going for us is that the Rays don't play Baltimore anymore, and we do.

The days are dwindling down to a precious few, as Maxwell Anderson put it. All is not lost, but those two games hurt.

ranger_lp said...

Today's fun fact:

Chad Green has allowed 16 HR since the start of 2020. The only MLB pitcher that has allowed more as a reliever is Heath Hembree (19)

HoraceClarke67 said...

Yeah, Green is not the answer. And our only reaction to that seems to be to keep hoping Chapo comes back.

And excellent points all around about the terrifying Return of the Starters.

When the hell did that "axiom" start? As Bitty notes, it sure as hell didn't apply in one of the most famous incidents in Yankees history. It especially should not apply to The Gleyber, a now constantly injured player who has not played at a major-league level for two years...

HoraceClarke67 said...

...I would feel a lot more optimistic about this season if it were, say, still early July. Maybe the Yanks could then work out who starts, and who finishes (games), etc.

But there's not enough time left, and the Yanks do not seem inclined to play the rest of this season with the urgency it requires.

I suspect that, judging by so many past seasons, they think a division title is a bridge too far, but that they have a wild-card spot wrapped and they will just grab that and wreak havoc in the playoffs.

That's the same losing strategy that has tortured us for years...


HoraceClarke67 said...

...First, they have nothing wrapped.

Oakland is a spirited young team. Boston is run by baseball geniuses. Both teams could easily fly by us if we drop into any sort of slump.

Second, winning a division title gives a team a huge advantage in the double wild-card era.

At best, the wild card Yanks would have to spend their ace—and a significantly better pitcher than anyone else on the staff—winning that one-game play-in. He would be pitching against another ace—and of course, anything can happen in a single game.

Even if they get past that, they then have to go into the playoffs hamstrung, against teams that have played better than they have for almost the entire season...

HoraceClarke67 said...

...But hey, look at the bright side: The Yankees have already achieved HAL's main goal for the team. They are once again a Wild-Card contender.

That's all HAL knows on this earth, and all he needs to know.

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to change my year end win total to 78 Wins and 32 Runs?

Doug K.

Celerino Sanchez said...

It's a good thing they got Gallo, because this team was lacking in .200 hitters who have 125+ks. Also Glen Otto threw 5innings of 2 hit ball on Friday or Saturday. But who needs pitching.

ZacharyA said...

513 runs allowed (4th best in MLB)
565 runs scored (19th best in MLB)

Pitching is not the issue with this team. Our staff allowed 3 runs on Saturday and 3 runs on Sunday. Both games should've been wins with a more consistent offensive performance.

Anyone complaining about our pitching is missing the bigger picture.

Celerino Sanchez said...

Do you really think this pitching is going to hold up, Cortes, Kluber, Gil, Tallion, not quite the Orioles of 71. Plus I’m think down the road for pitching. Gallo added nothing to this lineup.

ZacharyA said...

Just seems silly to complain about the pitching staff when they've been so excellent overall. The Yankees have a 2.85 ERA in August, best in the AL and second best in MLB.

Sure, it won't last. Kluber/Heaney combo likely gonna be blasted tonight. But a future pitching problem is a much smaller problem in my opinion than our SEASON LONG offensive issues.

Both Gallo (87 OPS+) and Rizzo (90 OPS+) have been below-average hitters with the Yankees. They were supposed to give us a jolt and fix our run-scoring problems.

RUNS SCORED (MLB Rank)
2020 Dodgers 1st
2019 Nationals 6th
2018 Red Sox 1st
2017 Astros 1st
2016 Cubs 3rd

I know "pitching wins in October" is thrown around a lot, but it certainly looks like a good offense is directly correlated to getting a ring in recent years.

JM said...

Aside from the fact that I typed "imminently" when I meant "eminently"--proving I am an old writer who can no longer spell--I agree with Zach. The pitching has been incredibly good, considering everyone who's been involved. The problem isn't staff-wide, it's more detailed and constantly shifting. Covid IL, injuries, overwork, closing failures...we've run the gamut. Overall, very good. Specific situations at key moments and in short time periods, not always.

We should get a nice respite with three vs the Angels and Orioles before running into Toronto for four. If we don't, we're totally screwed.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Zach makes some great points. And certainly, what trouble we HAVE had with pitching stems in good part from Boonie trying to force Chapo back into his closing role, instead of accepting that he is old/sore-armed/crazy, what have you.

I think Rizzo and even Gallo may provide more punch—but will it be on time? Therein lies the craziness in Rizzo not getting vaxxed and, obviously, not being careful...

HoraceClarke67 said...

...and I wouldn't take anything for granted against LA, Toronto, or even the Orioles.

Coops and Boone have decided to run September like a sort of second spring training, getting guys back in shape, resting regulars, etc.

This could easily be disastrous. I say you stay with the hot hands and work the vets back in as you are forced.

If Gleyber Torres wants a guaranteed starting spot, he should learn to slide with the hand he has the sliding glove on.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Amazin', too, to see the Amazins latest tempest in a teapot.

How stupid can you be to pick a fight with the fans? How stupid can you be to NOT just say, 'Oh, it's a little clubhouse thing,' when the reporters ask you about that gesture?

Javvy Baez, just 28, has earned nearly $29 million in his short career, making him one of the very wealthiest human beings who has ever walked the earth. And it's up to the fans to clap and pull he and his equally, obscenely rich teammates through?

What is he, Tinkerbell?

I guess Javvy doesn't intend to keep his limited game in New York—particularly now. But his little snit has probably cost him tens of millions of dollars wherever he goes.

Money, as always, is wasted on the rich.

Anonymous said...

I made most of these points in a post on this blog ONE WEEK AGO. duque reiterates them above without acknowledgment--a curious lapse in journalistic ethics from a career reporter.

Anonymous said...
Quandaries: It's clear that we are all hoping that Gleyber stays on the DL to prolong Velazquez's stint at shortstop. But . . . what about Urshela? If he returns, that's the end of Tyler Wade's sprint to the mountaintop. Frankly, I think that in a rational universe Wade would be playing ahead of Odor--he's better on defense and speed and his hitting is very close--look at their respective OPS's--although Odor has a slight edge, Wade's is much better for the past few weeks. Wade brings the youth and athleticism and elan we all pine for but has been markely lacking from Cashman's pastiche of suggards (and don't credit Cashman/Boone for playing Wade--credit COVID and injuries; Wade has always been good in extended trials but has had precious few with this team). And frankly I find Urshela to be something of an energy suck--he's great on defense, but SLOW, with only sporadic pop at the bat. People like to think that the Yankees' recent run is all about the firm of Rizzo and Gallo, but I think it has as much--or more--to do with the tandem of Velazquez and Wade: subtracting either from the lineup at this point in favor of Urshela and/or Torres would send this power-speed juggernaut into reverse and reinstate the sluggish .500-ish mailing-it-in jalopy of April through June.

August 23, 2021 at 6:59 PM

Anonymous said...

More points of mine from TWO DAYS AGO, also purloined by duque without acknowledgment:

Anonymous said...
Notwithstanding all the euphoria about THE STREAK, let's consider how many games the Yankees have gained on Tampa Bay in the last 10: ZERO. Let's consider how many games the Yankees have gained on Boston in the last 10: THREE, with the Sox stll nipping at the Yankees' heels. The Yanks have what appears to be an easy schedule the rest of the way, including 6 games with the doormat O's. But the Yankees' predominance looks paper thin to me: an overreliance on big-name no-hit guys like Rizzo, Gallo, Odor, and Gardner; two even bigger-name sluggers who are prone to cold streaks (Judge and Stanton); an erratic bullpen; a number-one starter with a lot of wear who would wilt in the stretch; an insistence on pitching duds like Heaney rather than young studs like Gil; a preference for low-energy, low-speed mediocrities like Urshela and Odor in the infield over the speedy dynamism of Wade, who got benched after his hot streak and galvanism on the bases helped to spark the streak; a manager and GM prone to panicky miscues in the heat of battle. So . . . I predict a slightly above-.500 stretch run and no postseason.

August 29, 2021 at 12:14 AM

Anonymous said...

I think duque could simply insert a polite "as Mr. X pointed out X number of days ago" where warranted. It will not diminish his stature as lead oracle of the blog by even one micron--it will only enhance it.

Kevin said...

Well, Mr. X, you can rest assured that your stature will also remain cemented, firmly, in place.

DickAllen said...


This is what happens when you leave the door open.

Publius said...

Has the looming and utter humiliation of Chris Sale outdueling Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium in the WC game dawned on everyone yet? Or will that be a great triumph, like the Afghanistan mission?

JM said...

Another visually challenged ump.

TheWinWarblist said...

Could an electronic device to call balls and strikes be any worse? At least everyone would be getting screwed equally.

JM said...

That's not working out yet, according to that article about pushing the mound back a foot.

Which seems kinda strange to me.

TheWinWarblist said...

Well of course it's not working out if the umps keep hitting the device with bats.

TheWinWarblist said...

Probably still working on a way to get the electronic ump to cheat against the Yanks. Won't be ready until the it reliably screws the Yanks on balls and strikes.

JM said...

Gio looks like a pitcher at the plate.

JM said...

Kluber getting knocked around second time through.

TheWinWarblist said...

Listening to the Master and Suzyn. Kluber has had his wonderful Yankee Moment already this year. He will blow this game and suck it down the stretch.

JM said...

What the fuck are the constant chroma shifts? Had them in Oakland but they're a lot worse tonight. Do they sell shit cameras on the West coast or is it crap video boards in the control rooms?

JM said...

Instant disaster.

JM said...

Kluber klocked for the salami.

TheWinWarblist said...

Kluber will suck it. All the way down the stretch.

ranger_lp said...

Kluber got hammered in his minor league rehab too…

Pocono Steve said...

Yeah, Kluber's never been a speed demon, but did he throw anything faster than 90 mph tonight? Sooner or later, you knew this was going to happen.

TheWinWarblist said...

I think everyone should get used to seeing Kluber getting hammered.

JM said...

Remember when the Yankees used to bunt and hit situationally? Good ol' days.

DJ remembers. Like Pepperidge Farm.

JM said...

They're back.

ZacharyA said...

Judge is 14-28 (.500) in his last 7 games

TheWinWarblist said...

I remember.

Actually I don't. A life in medicine and childrearing has rendered me amnesiac for everything other than those specific things.

TheWinWarblist said...

Booooone brought Heaney into this 7 car pile up to face Ohtani?? Great. Fucking great.

Anonymous said...

Maybe those fools will stop waving the Italian flag on the next home stand. Gallo’s from Nevada not Ragusa.

TheWinWarblist said...

Wow, you continue to be a douche about everything, but are still too much of a cowardly wussy to get a proper screen name.

Dick.

TheWinWarblist said...

The idiots in the Yes studios said the Yanks have the advantage in a bullpen game because they have a better bullpen than the Angels.

The Yankee bullpen has blown 23 saves this year.

Idiots.

DickAllen said...



Remember that 13-game winning streak?

A mirage. Just a mirage.

But that’s life in the desert!

TheWinWarblist said...

Does that qualify as another blown save? Not that it matters.

TheWinWarblist said...

I am here Commentariat. I will always be here.

TheWinWarblist said...

I'm gonna have another glass of wine if that alright with you all. 🍷

Leinstery said...

Road trip from hell to sink the season. Going to get blown out in the wild card game.

DickAllen said...



Oh, you think there will be a wild card game?

You mean: with the Yankees playing in it?

Anonymous said...

Hey Warblist--please stop obsessing about Dick.

DickAllen said...


I think what he actually meant to say was that you are a little cunt.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Ghost of Hoss here:

Keep your eyes on the prize: the only obtainable prize.

The magic number is still 6. Six games out of 31 to go. Should be doable.

TheWinWarblist said...

S'okay DA. It's pathetic "that" took the better part of an hour to come up with that lame response.

DickAllen said...



For such a little douchebag, an hour seems impressive.

And since he won’t put up a screen name, he should henceforth be called “That.”

Anonymous said...

"Little cunt." Nice, DICKwad, you sexist piece of shit.

Gee--do you think I'm glued to the computer every second and have no other uses for my time than obessing about phantoms on a blog, like you losers, who sit counting the minutes and seconds it takes someone to respond as a way of vindicating your shriveled lives, reduced to preadolescent ardor over a corporate entity that has no relation to the one that fanned the flames of your childhood? I guess while other people grew up and learned to care about the planet and other human beings you sat in the bathroom sorting your Yankee Strat cards for the past fifty years.How laughably pathetic.

Hey Dick Allen and Warblist and other would-be caped crusaders: I think your moral compass is a bit askew. First of all duque is not a demigod or a saint. Last season, for example, he thought it was just TOO WITTY to have wished that another team would be afflicted EN MASSE by a potentially lethal disease--COVID--during a pandemic. Someone rightly called him out on this--but none of you knights in shining armor could summon even one syllable of reproach on that appalling count, much less on his uncredited borrowings that I pointed out above.

Second, Rufus T. Firefly, one of the most diseased maestros of psychopathic flaming and abuse on this blog--under a variety of sock-puppet guises--attempted to torpedo the whole operation with his compulsive Pizza Boy spamming, but not a peep from you two leaders of the Legion of Decency. Curious, that. And then there's Dufus's incessant anti-vaxxer crusade, which merely threatens the lives of actual human beings--but not a whimper of reproach from either of you sanctimonious assholes about THAT--especially from Warblist, who professes to be a healthcare professional of some lower-order sort while irresponsibly and immorally dispensing medical advice to strangers over the Internet--a violation of professional ethics that gets a pass from DICK-face and the other assorted hall monitors.

So--assembled hypocrites and herd animals, who reserve your objurgation and group pile-ons not for really grievous offenses against ethical decency, but against those who contest the groupthink and deformed tribal ethos of your little regressed frat-boy Animal House: FUCK OFF, ya' two-faced babbling morons. Get a fucking life while the world is disintegrating around you and strain hard--really HARD--to divert some of your DICKwad misplaced indignation onto something more important than your little geriatric gang and your mismanaged joke of a baseball corporation.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye you pathological little shit face, you pathetic humorless moron who always needs to get the last word. Fuck off and die. Nobody listens to you. You’re just a mean miserable little piece of shit, stat baby.

Kevin said...

Does this mean that Mr. X, aka "Rainstat Boy" is leaving? NFW, because this is the only place that ever responds to his crazy disjointed ramblings. First thing out of his mouth is, "where's your sources", while the only time I have ever seen a source from HIM concerned Black v White man's sweat gland density. BTW, he never seems to get that his rant on the subject are meaningless since there have been many Black players in MLB over the years. Nobody sweats like Champman. And only in his his hollow mind did anyone try to turn the sweating into some kind of controversy with racial overtones. Which would offend the hell out of me if he ever made sense about anything.

Anonymous said...

Shut up, racist pig.

FIP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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