Saturday, June 19, 2021

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Season of Inconsistent Play Continues…

Sadly, it is nearly July and the Yankees have been the pinnacle of mediocrity. So much for my plans for the Yankees to overtake the Boston Red Sox by Memorial Day. At this point, even Labor Day is starting to look like a stretch. The Yankees can make up the six games to catch the division leading Tampa Bay Rays (who sit a ½ game up on the Red Sox entering play today), but my confidence in their ability this year has waned. With every step forward, the Yankees seemingly take two steps back. It has just been that kind of year.

While I heard the calls for the heads of Yankees manager Aaron Boone and hitting coach Marcus Thames, I put this one on GM Brian Cashman. Last off-season’s moves seemed like they were high risk moves.  I know, high reward potential but the risk has become evident with the loss of Corey Kluber for an extended period due to injury and the disappointing starts by Jameson Taillon.  I think every Yankees fan knew how to rebuild the Yankees offense except Cashman. I say that mostly in jest because I recognize Cashman knows more about this team than any of us ever will, but it is hard not to notice the offensive shortcomings and wonder what could have been had the right moves been made.

A quick note of defense for Taillon, he did pitch better last night even if the Yankees were unable to win the game against the Oakland Athletics.

Although Cashman says the Yankees will be buyers at the trading deadline, I have my doubts. We will see. I am not overly optimistic about October chances unless there is a significant improvement in team performance. The talent is there. The results are not.  A nice ten-game winning streak would be nice about now. Start today and move forward. Getting on a winning roll would certainly help rebuild some confidence in this team.

My worst fear when the Yankees traded for former Oakland A’s starter Sonny Gray materialized last night with the Yankee Stadium appearance by A’s starter (and winner) James Kaprielian. At the time, it was tough to lose Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo, but Kaprielian stood out to me as the one that hurt the most. I know the injury label and many fans scoffed at his injury history, but it has always been clear the talent was there. He was one of my favorite Yankee prospects and I did not want to see him go (despite the injuries). Now that he is healthy, he will prove to be a thorn in future Yankees-A’s games. His history with the Yankees only serves to motivate him more to defeat our favorite team. I probably harbor some hope that Kap will find his way back to Pinstripes one day.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

This of course leads me to the Mike Ford trade. I do not enjoy trades within the division. Growing up, I always hated seeing the young prospects that George Steinbrenner traded away become great Major League players. Seeing them flourish with a division rival adds salt to the wound. While I do not think Mike Ford will ever be an All-Star first baseman, I was surprised the Yankees traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays. We always enjoyed Ford’s bat flips but somehow, I suspect they will not be so fun to watch anymore. Like Kaprielian last night, Ford will have added motivation to beat the Yankees.  Cash and a player to be named later seems to be a small return for the damage Ford might do against his former team. It is not like the PTBNL is going to be a top ten prospect.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

As for Ford’s departure, I am happy for Chris Gittens, and I hope he takes full advantage of his opportunity. Luke Voit may be the starter when healthy, but his injuries have shown the Yankees need a strong backup. We had hoped Ford would be that guy and he just was not. I would like to see Gittens fare better. I always hate to see D.J. LeMahieu in the lineup at first base because it means Rougned Odor is the starting second baseman. I would rather have someone else thrive at first to keep Le Machine at second base and Odor on the bench. 

I am glad the fans are back in Yankee Stadium. Cardboard cut-outs and fake fan noise are memories from a summer gone by and now we enter a new summer with the heartbeat of the Yankees Universe filling the stadium stands to capacity to motivate a struggling team to better play.  Despite the re-opening, I was a little disappointed to see so many empty seats but that will undoubtedly change as people readjust to the ability to attend games. The downside for me, living in California, is the inability to frequently travel to the Bronx. If I were closer, I certainly would.

I always love going to Dodger Stadium, but it is just not quite like the palace of Yankee Stadium. 

As always, Go Yankees! 

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