Thursday, April 8, 2021

A night filled with dark omens casts an early shadow over the 2021 Yankees

Last night was a trap, a mirage: We entered on a roll, unveiling a stud winter acquisition, and our dearest friends - the jolly-good Orioles of Baltimore - would surely accommodate us. They are wonderful guests. 

Still, it began with one Yank in the jacuzzi and ended with another face-down in the dirt. A night of bad omens, with the juju gods working overtime. Consider...

1. Gleyber Torres threw a game away - literally. One out from a scoreless 10th, Gleyber botched a Little League throw to first. Yeesh. It was a play he simply has to make. By night's end, YES was airing a highlight reel of his errors from the first five games. Dare I wonder: Is this becoming a Knoblauch thing? The '21 Yankees were balanced on Gleyber at SS. If he can't play it - increasingly a concern - it forces a domino-drop of roster moves, all of which begin with finding someone who can. The lineup with Gleyber at 2B is like a Picasso painting, the nose and eyes out of place. Be afraid.

2. In the ninth, down by a run, Gary Sanchez - is there such a thing as an omen-free night from Gary? - smacked a clutch line drive double to left, except for a problem: He stopped at first. Actually, he had no choice. Halfway down the baseline, Gary stopped running so he could better watch the ball. It soared past the LF's glove and bounced off the wall, and Gary had no chance to take second. The result: a runner on first, as opposed to one in scoring position... because he didn't run hard. 

The game was on the line. If a guy doesn't hustle in that situation, will he ever? Great Yankee teams were built around firebrand catchers - Yogi, Elston, Thurman, Jorge, even Girardi - who led by example. That's not Gary. It never will be. Last night, Sanchez was bailed out by an epic romp by Mike Tauchman - scoring from first on a ball that didn't even get past the LF. If Tauchy were out at home, the Yankiverse would be on fire today, seething about Gary's failure to run.  

3. Gleyber's botched throw might have been snared by an expert first-baseman. Instead, we saw an awkward lunge by OF/DH Jay Bruce (who otherwise did not play poorly) as the ball skidded by. Gleyber might have one chance at SS - a gold glove-level 1B who snares his bad throws. That's not Bruce. (It might not even be Luke Voit.)

4. Okay, no more burying the lead: Aaron Judge watched. He suffered "side soreness." WTF does that mean? I do not think Judge is a wuss or bad actor. He is a big lug with with big muscles that snap like matchsticks and heal in geologic time. It we hear today that he'll miss six weeks, will anybody be surprised? And if it's Giancarlo tomorrow, would eyebrows even raise? This we do know: The Yankees will not feel compelled to disclose the truth about an injury, if they sense any advantage to keeping it quiet. So whatever they say about it being minor... their words mean nothing. 

5. Clint Frazier is in a funk. In five sad at bats last night, he gave the O's infield practice. We all have high hopes for Clint. But now and then, you blink and see another Billy McKinney, another Zolio Almonte - another young Yankee whose great potential might be obscured by a flaw that we never noticed, but is now on every opponent's chalk board. 

Until Frazier is a proven hitter, he is not. 

This weekend, we start a nine-game set between Tampa and Toronto. Although there is no such thing as a "must" series in April, last night's omens will not disappear on their own. Thus far, the 2021 Yankees have just not looked all that good.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Yankees are a flawed team

Anonymous said...

Move DJL to 1st. move Gleyber to 2nd. Sign DiDi to play SS.
What, are you sure? Never Mind.
The Archangel

Anonymous said...

Another winnable game botched. A very good example of why I don't think this is a playoff team. Will we ever win one of these extra inning magic runner affairs? Other teams seem to have zero difficulty scoring these magic runners against us.

The Hammer of God

Magnus7319 said...

That's an EASY dig for any competent 1B. Yea, I get Torres has a little throwing issue right now...but he's no Chuck Knoblauch (yet)... but jeez a backup 1B should be able to actually field, come on... every backup doesn't need to be a left handed Steve Balboni (and I think Balboni makes that play at 1b honestly)

JM said...

I'm with Magnus. Gleyber is not a natural shortstop, or even a good force-fit one. He bounces throws constantly, thanks to his second-baseman-powered arm. But that throw in the 10th had to be caught, and it was very much catchable. It hit Bruce's glove, fer chrissakes, but his glove wasn't open to catch it. It looked like he was spooked by the runner, who was arriving at the same time as the ball. Pathetic.

The preseason prediction Duque made about Gleyber running up the errors because Bruce isn't a good first baseman is coming true with a vengeance. The preseason idea of almost everyone that the Yanks should have signed Didi and found a way to juggle the infield is following suit.

The bigger problem is, do we have anyone who can play SS? Wade? He's been reduced to a speedster pinch runner. He's not a hitter, or hasn't been, even though there have been flashes. But defense can lose and win games, too. Plus, what about his potential? Hicks has almost nothing but potential offensively and he got a nice 7-year marriage contract. But that largesse doesn't seem to extend to other players.

In better infield news, Gio looks like he might be coming back to life offensively. The average is creeping up. Maybe 2019 wasn't a fluke? Maybe.

But Judge...I mean, come on. When I heard about this latest "injury," I really did laugh out loud. Mantle would have gotten a massage, stretched out with a few easy swings, and had himself taped up before he hit the field.

What a dysfunctional organization and team.

Anonymous said...

JM
Don't you understand? Mantle was just a player.
Judge is the face of MLB. He was trying to decide if he will boycott selected games this season.
He apparently will sit out all of the games in Florida to protest the 162 games schedule. When the MLB was all white, they played less games per year and these racist owners are forcing them to play a lot more.
Godot

Anonymous said...

Duque that was all frighteningly accurate.

May I humbly add...

6) Urshala jammed his neck. That ain't good.

7) While Urshala was face down in the dirt, for no small amount of time, Mr. Sterling failed to notice and went about wrapping up the game. (I do YES Video and WFAN audio at the same time)

Combine this with "The Bruce is loose" and several misidentifications during the broadcast and I'm starting to worry about the guy.

8) Odor is a 2B. So now we have three legit players for 2B and none for SS.
Well Wade... but if he's a starter where's our speed off the bench?

A few thoughts on solutions...

1) Bench Gleyber at least one game. There has to be consequences. He needs to step it up. His slow reaction in the previous game that led to the 2 run home run also led to extra pitches.

2) Truthfully, when he returns. He plays second. DJ to first. Wade is the starting SS. You have to have defense up the middle and even though Gleyber's good with the bat (or was) it doesn't make up for shoddy D.

Gleyber can't be our SS anymore. Sad. But. True. 2B is ok with me. It's not something that can be taught. He doesn't have the skill level. And if it could be taught, it should have been taught already.


3) Why oh why didn't we sign Didi? We need to find a better SS and fast! And yes, I'm aware that fast describes Wade.

4) Bruce is overmatched and it's not his fault. (That said, JM and Mangus are right, that was a TOTALLY makeable play by pretty much anyone who wears a first-baseman's mitt.)

5) Clint is just pressing. He'll come around.

6) More on Judge in the poem thread but yesterday was the first time that I had the thought that re-signing him when he's a FA might be a mistake.

And that's the worst thought of all.

Doug K.





DickAllen1964 said...

Mantle also would have been either hungover from the night before or still drunk. Wouldn’t have felt a thing.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Dick, Mantle's teammates and opponents actually thought he played BETTER when hungover. It kept him from overswinging. True story!

Anonymous said...

Hoss,

"actually thought he played BETTER when hungover. It kept him from overswinging."

I should try that on the golf course.

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And you have a conveyance to carry you from hole to hole—unlike poor Mick who actually had to run the bases himself.