Monday, May 7, 2018

You cannot predict baseball, Suzyn, but this streak cannot last forever

This is when you hate the off-day. We don't need no stinkin' R&R, no time off for Netflix or Putin hookers. We need fresh meat to toss on the grill. We need a team to humble, a closer to pee on, a Francona or Showalter to humiliate. We need to keep the party going.

Last year, a four-run deficit was death. Down in the eighth? Roll the credits and electrify the Jack Curry robot-animatron. This year, hold the curtain. I think it's the rookies, each with something to prove. The old vets try - don't get me wrong - but they've shoveled too much coal to still believe in Santa. The kids have yet to experience a long slog through August. They think Curry is actually alive.

Still.. 15 out of 16 is surreal, a cartoon stat from another multiverse. It cannot last forever. We hope it continues through the Boston series. Two out of three would tie us for first, with Oakland and the Angels visiting. You can't predict baseball, Melania, but this we know. Corrections are coming... for better or worse. For example:  

Brett Gardner won't hit .203. Last year, he finished at .264. This being a contract year, you'd expect improvements (but that's not true blue Gardy's way; he plays for his team, not his next contract.) He delivered a big hit yesterday. He's due. A streaking Gardner would ignite the offense. It's a wonder we've done so well without him.

Giancarlo Stanton should heat up. Don't know what to think here, except that Terry Francona did the Yankees a favor yesterday by intentionally walking him in the ninth. He almost surely would have struck out, because that's all we see from him. He looks over-matched, nothing like a reigning MVP. Still... that's just it. He shouldn't be a .220 hitter - not yet, anyway. We saw Giambi, Teixiera and A-Rod wither into the low .200s, but they were in their 30s. Stanton can't be this bad, can he?

Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres will come to earth. The league will write a book on them, and they'll have to adjust to it. Andujar is already seeing this. Both look like great talents, above Yank rookies of the past. Still, we cannot fully assess them until they survive their first slumps. And they will come.

Dellin Betances remains a house of cards. If a lead-off batter reaches base, pull him. He cannot hold a runner, and the sky falls in. Yesterday, Coney had just finished suggesting that Betances looked sharp enough to pitch three innings - a thinly veiled implication that a no-hitter was within reach, and then... ka-boom. Jeez, this guy scares me. Can he be saved?

Aaron Hicks still gives enough to tantalize. His huge double in the ninth raised his average to .240. With Gardy in the tank, and Ellsbury out until July, we have nobody else to play CF. Hicks represents the the Yankee offense's fifth gear. If he could hit, say, .280 with power, we could win 110.

Gary Sanchez keeps blowing pitches. Yesterday, the Indians' fourth run - what seemed the kill stroke - bounced off his mitt. On replay, Coney flatly declared: "He has to catch that ball!" If this continues, the Yankees must do something. Already, Sonny Gray has appropriated Austin Romine. Would CC follow suit? Sanchez is the best power hitting catcher in baseball (though a .200 average isn't cutting it, either.) He's got a rifle arm. But something's wrong here. Let's hope it's not a mental thing. 

Fifteen out of sixteen. Damn. Why aren't we playing tonight?


KD said...

I don't remember a stretch of regular season ball I've enjoyed so much as this one, right here. And I've watched many hundreds of games, in person, at the MiLB and MLB levels. The number gets embarrassing if counting TV viewing.

This team has its flaws as all of us can see. But damn.. This team has HEART!!!

Thank you, JuJu gods! THANK YOU!!

If we get a front line starter while retaining Red Thunder and all our position players, I'll even praise Coops!

Local Bargain Jerk said...

The fact that Severino is starting the first game of the Boston series is more icing on this magnificent cake.

13bit said...

I agree. Off days like this are not something to wish for. Going to leave it at that.

Sanchez? Bigger glove? I dunno. I still think we should get Mariano to work with him in a dusty field down south for a week, gently tossing balls at his head while he has his hands tied behind his back. SOMETHING to force him to focus, because I'm CERTAIN it's a mental issue. If we didn't have Stanton - who I still believe will "heat up" - we could DH Sanchez more. Alas and alack, that's not an option.

Everything else you said is dead-on, although I wouldn't be so kind to Betances. "House of Cards" implies that there is some structure left in his game. I think he's more like 52 Pick Up.

David in Cal said...

How does a catcher learn to catch errant pitches? Jerry Rice used to practice catching badly thrown passes. Maybe Sanchez can do something similar.

Anonymous said...

Re Stanton: It's amazing how irrelevant he's become. Not in the lineup yesterday and zero feeling of loss. He should come around, but the lack of excitement or anticipation around his at bats is extraordinary.

If he wasn't walked yesterday, as Duque mentioned, we would have felt dread in anticipation of the inevitable K.

Right now his biggest contribution to the team is getting Castro off it and Gleybar on.

Doug K.

KD said...

"Stanton can't be this bad, can he?"

when an NL superstar comes over to the AL, he has to show us what he's got. I fear that Mr. Scranton is doing just that.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

Re: The Gley Hey Kid

Do you think Torres "gets" the reference here?

I'm not referring to whatever cultural/language gap exists (or doesn't). Willie Mays last played a full season in 1971; and by then, his glory days were behind him.

Gleyber was worn in 1998. Yeah, when you were already over-the-hill; and I was falling down the freaking hill.

And: That birth came in Venezuela where, for all I know, they were talking about Fidel Castro's curveball -- and maybe were not big fans of THE Say Hey Kid!

Willie Mays has always been one of my (very damn few) favorite non-Yankees ballplayers.

Will someone have to explain who he is and what he did -- to Gleyber?

Anonymous said...

Joe FOB gives us another reason to be thinking about 1998!

HoraceClarke66 said...

ESPN was reporting yesterday that the Yankees are 6-1 when trailing or tied in the eighth inning this year—THE ONLY TEAM IN MLB WITH A WINNING RECORD IN SUCH SITUATIONS (sorry to infringe, ALL-CAPS).

I agree with most of what our Peerless Leader says—which to me, makes this all the more freaky. As that great Yankee captain, John Paul Jones, once said, we have not yet begun to fight!

This team is not yet hitting on all cylinders—and we have so many cylinders just now, it's scary.

Yes, yes, it can all change in a heartbeat. But still...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Two small caveats:

—You're going to get passed balls or wild pitches when you have a 6-3 catcher, and a staff that loves to twirl balls in the dirt. It's just going to happen. Also, there seems to be some confusion about signs—hence El Chapo's wild pitch the other day.

Sanchez has a cannon for an arm and regularly throws out runners, and he has become stunningly adept at framing pitches—probably the reason our pitchers' ERA is usually so much better with him in there than Romine. There are always going to be tradeoffs. I think we all need to relax a little about this one.

—Toonces is showing real signs of improvement. EVERY relief pitcher these days, even The Great One, is worse in his second inning of work.

Sure, we needed that second inning yesterday, so it was best to send him out there. But he did NOT have some terrible outing. Two squibby hits and one solid single is just the way it goes sometime. There was a good faith effort to keep runners on; a designated base stealer, barely beat a throw into third.

(Incidentally, when was the last time a Yankees manager called a pitchout? I'm thinking it was sometime in 1976.)

This was not a typical Toonces collapse, and it comes after a couple of other good outings. He looked better, and he even sounded better in the postgame interview.

It's great to see the pitching—and especially the bullpen—improve so dramatically, but let's not get carried away. Nothing will bring down the wrath of the JuJu gods more quickly than grousing, after a thrilling win over a top contender—to complete a series sweep!—"Aww, we shoulda had a combined no-hitter!"

HoraceClarke66 said...

Just as glad to have tonight off, actually. The staff could use the rest, and for all the great wins a lot of folks still aren't hitting.

Let's take this nice evening and get ready for the BoSox!