Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Just Wait

That same look is on the faces of most Yankees' fans.

As many of you know, I don't like dwelling on the negative. I'd much rather point out how good Luis Severino has been, than talk about how bad Gary Sanchez has been with the bat. But that poor performance, as well as others, is why I'm writing today.

I pointed out players that I felt would do better than they have, as well as players that would slow down. It was too early of a look, but it was something I wanted to get off my chest. Today I'm here to do much of the same, but I'm going to bring a little more perspective to the conversation.

First... the problems...

1. Look at this list of players that are currently injured...

Greg Bird March 29, 2018 - Ankle Bird has been designated for the 10-day disabled list due to surgery to remove a small broken spur on his right ankle and is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks as a result.
Brandon Drury April 07, 2018 - Migraine Drury has been placed on the disabled list with migraines and blurred vision. There is no set timetable for his return to the lineup.
Jacoby Ellsbury March 26, 2018 - Oblique Ellsbury is on the 10-day disabled list with an oblique injury and is expected to be sidelined until the middle of April.
Clint Frazier March 29, 2018 - Concussion Frazier has been placed on the 7-day disabled list as he is experiencing concussion-like symptoms and there is no timetable for return.
Ben Heller April 09, 2018 - Elbow Heller has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list after undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery as well as a procedure to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.
Aaron Hicks April 04, 2018 - Ribs Hicks is on the 10-day disabled list with a right intercostal muscle strain but is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Red Sox.
Billy McKinney March 31, 2018 - Shoulder McKinney has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with an AC sprain in his left shoulder and has no timetable for a return.
CC Sabathia April 07, 2018 - Hip Sabathia has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right hip and it is unknown when he will make his next scheduled start.
Gary Sanchez April 09, 2018 - Calf Sanchez missed his second-consecutive game with a calf injury but is expected to be in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Red Sox.
Tyler Wade April 08, 2018 - Flu Wade has sat out the previous two games due to flu-like symptoms and is unclear if he will suit up against the Red Sox on Tuesday.
*credit to Baseball-Referencce

Greg Bird, slated to start at first base this season, has yet to appear in the regular season. Brandon Drury, starting third baseman, has been dealing with blurred vision and migraines long before he joined the Yankees. Our regular centerfielder, Aaron Hicks, may have played on Opening Day but that's been it. And I'd talk about us being without our starting catcher for a couple of games, but...

2. Gary Sanchez has been dreadful with the bat. I keep saying "with the bat" because his defense has actually been pretty good. Unfortunately he's hitting .063/.091/.188. That lack of production would be bad anywhere in the lineup, but when you're talking about a guy that hits fourth or fifth, that lack of production becomes a much bigger problem.

3. Twenty strikeouts so far this season... two games with five strikeouts... a batting average of .167... an on-base percentage of .271. No, that's not the Yankees' #9 batter, that is their #3 hitter... Giancarlo Stanton. 

4. Would you believe it if I told you that the Yankees' relievers have combined for the highest fWAR in the American League? Probably not, but it's true (FYI, the bullpen ranks fifth in innings pitched in the AL). Which amazed me when I saw it, because although they've been better lately, the bullpen has made some horrible appearances this season.

Now to be more like myself... optimistic. 

The first point may not get worked out. Greg Bird appeared in only 69 games in 2017, and just 17 games in 2016 (all in the Arizona Fall League). Greg's middle name is "Disabled List". Fortunately, Neil Walker has looked like a very nice replacement. As for injuries in general, you can't predict them, so while the team should get healthier down the road, it's not a certainty.

Yet there's plenty of reasons to believe points two through four will get better sooner or later. 

1. Gary Sanchez is not going to go from an OPS+ of 126 in 2017 to being a well below average hitter in 2018. 

2. The 2017 NL MVP and MLB home run leader, Giancarlo Stanton, will not strike out 300 times in 2018 (he's actually on pace to exceed 300 Ks this season). 

3. The bullpen will actually get better and prove they are the best group of relievers in baseball. David Robertson will have a much lower ERA than his current 5.40, Dellin Betances will improve on his ERA of 4.50, Adam Warren is better than his current ERA of 4.91, etc.

4. By the trade deadline the Yankees will add key pieces to a 2018 postseason run.

5. Finally, and most importantly, think about the way the Yankees have won and lost. Four of their five wins have been by at least five runs, while they were leading or tied after the 8th inning in three of their five losses. Basically, they are winning big or losing by a little. If things were the opposite you'd have reason to worry, but the way things have gone you shouldn't be.

If anyone tries to give you grief about the way the Yankees have played so far this season just respond with the words used for the title of this post... just wait.

The Showdown in Boston...

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Adam Glanzman)
Yankees invade Fenway Park…

Without delving too much into last weekend, I’ve had better days. Losing three of four to a team that you are supposed to beat (the Baltimore Orioles) is difficult to accept, especially when the Yankee could have easily won the last loss when they had the bases loaded, no outs, in extra innings with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton coming to bat. 

Am I disappointed in Stanton so far? Absolutely. Am I going to fret over him in Pinstripes as a result? Absolutely NOT! Death, taxes, and Giancarlo Stanton going on a home run tear are certainties of life. Things will get better and so will Stanton and Company. When Stanton is on one of his monster tears like last summer, his slow start (the two Opening Day home runs in Toronto excluded) will be long forgotten.   

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)
While the Yankees have struggled out of the gate (winning only five of ten games), the Boston Red Sox have been on a roll. The last time Boston lost was the season opener in St Petersburg, FL on March 29th. They have yet to lose another game, and lead the AL East by two games over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees trail the Sox by three and a half games.  As many have already said, no division championships were ever won in April. Well, except for maybe a few NBA and NHL teams. For MLB teams, this is far from over. Once the Yankee bats heat up like we know they can, it’s going to be a fun and exciting chase in the American League East. The Red Sox can run but they can’t hide. The target is on their back; not ours.

I am sure that Red Sox fans are ecstatic over their team’s 8-1 record but you have to keep in mind they did it against the lowly Florida teams. Sorry Jetes, but your team does suck right now (poor Starlin). So does Rob Refsnyder’s team. The Yankees represent the first real test Boston has faced this year. I know, it would be better if the Yankees weren’t scuffling coming into this series, but the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry always seems to bring out the best in everyone. The Red Sox will throw Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello at the Yankees on successive nights.  The Yankees counter with their best…Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and most likely Sonny Gray. Win or lose, this is going to be a great series.  If the Yankees can take at least two of three, they’ll be in great shape. A sweep would be perfect but that might be asking for too much. So, for now, I’d settle for at least two of the games.

Tuesday, April 10th at 7:10 pm ET
Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-0, 1.38 ERA)
Red Sox:  Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA)

Wednesday, April 11th at 7:10 ET
Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 2.92 ERA)
Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Thursday, April 12th at 7:10 ET
Yankees:  TBA (expected to be Sonny Gray, 1-0, 3.60 ERA)
Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA)

The Red Sox did suffer a setback prior to the start of the series. It was announced yesterday they have placed shortstop Xander Bogaerts on the 10-day DL with a small fracture in his left ankle. He is expected to be out 10-14 days. To take his place on the roster, the Red Sox recalled infielder Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple A Pawtucket. Lin and Brock Holt are expected to share time at short while Bogaerts is out.

Photo Credit: Globe Staff (Jim Davis) 

The Yankees are expected to get Aaron Hicks back for the getaway game on Thursday before the Yankees leave Boston for Detroit. He will be a welcome addition. Hopefully A-A-Ron can hit the ground running when he returns. We need his bat and defense ASAP. 

MLB.com finally resolved the 40-man roster dilemma by removing Cody Asche. I never did see any explanations so I honestly do not know if Asche was reported on the 40-man roster in error or if he cleared waivers. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders site was also corrected to show that he is not on the 40-man roster. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why forty-one names were showing on the 40-man roster last weekend. I knew that Asche had to be the key but it was odd no explanations could be found. On the transactions page of MLB.com, the 4/04/18 entry shows that Asche was “optioned” to Triple A which implies that he was on the MLB roster. There are no subsequent transactions involving Asche, who started at third base last night for the RailRiders. I guess whatever the situation is/was, they got it resolved as I knew they would. I just hate it when something does not make sense to me.

Today is a new day.  It is time for the Giancarlo Stanton Era to begin in earnest. The Yankees are deep in the heart of enemy territory. All hands on deck. Let’s beat the Red Sox.

Go Yankees!