Monday, April 5, 2021

Toronto just sent the Yankees a message, and it should worry us

Let's start with the obvious: 

Aside from injuries and joyful visits from topless dancers, nothing of consequence happens in the first weekend of a season. 

If someone told you Michael King would throw six shutout innings, that Gary Sanchez would belt two HRs and that nobody would splatter like Lady Diana into an outfield wall - (too soon?) - admit it: You've have pricked your thumb and signed Mephistopheles' parchment. After three games, our bullpen remains intact. We even scored most of our runs (five out of eight) via small ball. Why would we worry?

Expect a long, hellacious season, made even longer because of last year's 60-game sprint. Between now and October, our lineup will turn over countless times, and all expectations will be chewed up and spat out. Baltimore is 3-0. (Last year, the O's swept us in Games 4 and 5.) Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack. That's China Town, Jake. You can't predict baseball, Suzyn.

I can't even believe I'm bothering to write this: That's how obvious it is. Aside from speeches and bird shit, nothing of consequence rains upon the opening weekend. Take the loaded Luger out of your mouth. Put down the Draino. As long as nobody is clutching his elbow, we have 158 games to erase the 2-game lead Baltimore has amassed. I mean, WHY AM I EVEN SAYING THIS? MY MAIN LOBE, THE PART OF THE BRAIN THAT KNOWS THESE THINGS, THAT ACCEPTS REALITY AND UNDERSTANDS THE RIDICULOUSLNESS OF DRAWING CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FIRST WEEKEND OF A SEASON, IT'S ON FIRE WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT IT'S PREPOSTEROUS, IT'S INSANE, IT'S A WASTE OF MY TIME AND YOUR TIME, AND EVERYBODY'S TIME, TO WORRY ABOUT THE 2021 SEASON. AND I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO BE INVOLVED WITH ANYTHING OF LESS CONSEQUENCE THAN DRAWING CONCLUSIONS FROM THE FIRST GAMES OF A YEAR. WHY, THAT WOULD BE PATENTLY ABSURD!

That said, I have some thoughts...

In fact, you'd have to blind to miss them.

1. Until further notice, Toronto is the class of the AL East. They put us down so easily that, for the first time in 40 years, I recalled Nature Boy Buddy Rogers with his Sleeper Hold. They scored runners. We stranded them. Their lineup offers at least five emerging stars - players who have yet to peak professionally. We might have two (Gleyber and Frazier.) We must stop kidding ourselves about the Yankees being the power team of the AL. That's YES propaganda. (And after a weekend of Coney and O'Neill, it's clear that YES is evolving from the Yankee Fox News into the Yankee OAN.)  

2. Though there's no need to make changes now, the brain trust must start pondering a post-Aaron Hicks era. If by May 1 he isn't hitting, they must move him out of the third hole. If by June 1, they must replace him. The problem is our distressful lack of lefty bats, which could force a set of horrible trades by Aug. 1. How does a Yankee team - in the House that Ruth Built - evolve into an almost entirely RH batting order? Right now, we're leaning on Jay Bruce and Brett Gardner to balance an entire lineup. That's a glaring weakness. 

3. Okay, rabbit hole  time: I cannot help but wonder if there is more to Giancarlo Stanton being rested after just two games in three days? Sadly, with injuries, we've been programmed over the years to expect the worst. Whenever a pitcher gets walloped, it turns out he was throwing in pain. And when a player sits out, there's usually an ache involved. I get it that Aaron Boone wanted Gardy to get into a game. But Stanton is an absolute central cog to the 2021 Yankees. He's so important that they didn't play him for one pitch in the outfield this spring. So he sits out the third game? WTF?  


Anonymous said...

Great points, as always, Duque.

An all right handed Yankees lineup? Got to be a sign of the approaching Apocalypse. We've got Mephistopheles pulling the strings in the Yankee front office. The team needed a couple of blockbuster trades over the winter to stay competitive and have a chance at a championship. Instead, nothing ... as usual ... nothing at all happened over the winter.

In the late '70s, the New York Islanders were loaded with stars but couldn't close the deal on a championship. Everyone was asking, "what's wrong with you guys?" It turned out they were one player away from four straight Stanley Cups. They traded for Butch Goring, learned how to win in the playoffs, and the rest was history.

It occurs to me that the way the Yankee front office operates, they must believe that they're one player away from a World Series championship. So they're extremely conservative, afraid to make a big move that might rock the boat. But this is no great Islander team of the late '70s, searching for the final piece to a puzzle, a key to a championship. This Yankee team is badly flawed, in many different ways, and has been so for a long time. We're at least a couple of blockbuster trades away from doing anything. Those kinds of trades are hard to do in the regular season now. Because of the expanded wild card, everybody thinks he's got a chance to win a championship. Big trades no longer happen at the trade deadline. This work had to be done over the winter.

I have zero confidence in the current front office doing anything of the sort. So we're doomed to experience slow, incremental decline, until ownership decides to get off its ass and bring in the best baseball people out there.

The House of God

Ricky B said...

...or Yankees CNN

HoraceClarke66 said...

Your 1998 New York Yankees, the greatest team ever assembled, lost their first 3 games of the season, being outscored by 21-6. They lost 4 of their first 5, being outscored 36-21.

Then they won 8 in a row, and 14 of their next 15.

The good news?

As our Peerless Leader points out, the first series of the year means nothing.

The bad news?

These aren't the 1998 Yankees.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Truer words never spoken Hoss, LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

mik said...

Let's see. We have Gerrit Cole who signed a 9 year / $324,000,000 contract who can't pitch past the 5th, a catcher who is a DH, a SS who is a 2nd baseman, and an outfield made of glass. I'm a simple guy who always thought that up-the-middle defense and pitching win games. Am I missing something here?

Does Cashman have some sort of super secret analytical plan that he is getting ready to unleash on us?

Anonymous said...

Gotta look at the arrows...

In raising my kids I always tried not to compare them to the kids of my friends and relatives. This one is an honor student. That one got an internship. You can drive yourself nuts.

Instead, I developed a philosophy of looking at the arrows. Meaning, are they headed in the right direction, under the assumption that, as long as they were, they would be okay.

So lets look at the aforementioned arrows...

Cole and Kluber looked fine to me. It's early in the season and so they aren't as sharp as hopefully they will be. But the arrow is fine.

German - First time in Yankee Stadium in YEARS. Yes, YEARS. He sucked. Toronto is good. He gets a freebie from me. If he sucks again, not pitches okay, but can't get out of the 1st or 2nd again we've got problems. That said, I wasn't relying on him. What I don't understand is, why was he our number three? I thought he was number 5? Where's Tallion?

Not going to do them all. It really is a short statistical sample but...

Hicks is a real problem because for the last three seasons his arrow is going the wrong way. When have any of us ever heard the hitter in the 3 hole being praised for WALKS? That's just total bullshit.

Doesn't golf screw up your baseball swing? Or is that a made up thing? Hicks really does need to go.

The Stanton absence is scary as well. How do you design a season around trying not to get hurt? Broken Arrow?

Frazier looks up to the task. So there's that. But the truth is...

The Jays look very good. Their pen looked great even without their best reliever. It's a long season but the Jays arrow is pointed straight up.

Now we face the Orioles.

Charles Barkley once said (about bad teams winning games early) it's tough to play them because they don't know they are bad yet. Sounds like Baltimore hasn't gotten the memo. I guess we'll see.

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Amen, HOG.

This team is on the downward slide. Which is where the Mets can help us. If they get good enough to start cutting into HAL's profit margins, then action might result.

But it will still take years.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Oh, and a correction above: In their first 5 games, the 1998 Yankees were outscored 36-15.

But you get my point.

Anonymous said...

Don’t start

Kevin said...

Management mumbled some bllsht reason to skip Taillon's first turn through the rotation. Something smells. Funny how driven Cashman has been over the years to have matchup pieces in the bullpen, but claims that our RH bats are good enough to hit all pitching. Besides ignoring over a hundred years of baseball history, he also ignores what happens in the playoffs when superior pitching annihilates same sided hitters. I'm writing "Cashman" but Hall's greed, or Need to win a ring is at fault. For a few dollars more this team would be the team to beat for a ring. As it stands, a lot has to go right. Which pisses me off.