Saturday, September 18, 2021

Winning is Better...

Photo Credit: John Minchillo, AP

Why can’t all wins be this easy?...

Friday night’s win over the soon-to-be renamed Cleveland Indians was one of the rare times the Yankees have won in a cake walk this season and it was nice…very nice. With homers flying everywhere, the Yankees easily backed starter Corey Kluber and the bullpen (thank you for not inserting Andrew Heaney), thumping the Indians 8-0. It was probably bittersweet for Kluber as he’ll never face his former team again while they wear Indians gear.  Next season they become the Cleveland Guardians and will have a different look. 

Things looked so sunny and bright for the Yankees a few weeks ago when they were on the 13-game winning streak, and then, as we know, they fell hard with miserable play to undo the strong wild card advancement they had made, putting them back into the mix with the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

As hard as it was to get swept by the Blue Jays earlier this month, Thursday’s ugly loss to the Baltimore Orioles was probably one of the toughest losses, for me, to accept. The Yankees have lost a few games this season they should have won, and Thursday’s game was obviously the latest example. They scored two early runs and couldn’t put more insurance runs on the board, and let the Orioles steal the victory in walk-off fashion, thanks to ineffective late relief and sloppy play. The Yankees inability to figure out the Orioles this season while the Tampa Bay Rays were beating them in 18 out of 19 games is why the Rays are in first place and the Yankees are not. 

When the Yankees can’t beat a truly inferior opponent, it leads me to believe there will be no October magic in the Bronx this year. They do not seem to have the “it” quality teams destined for championships have. They have not given me the confidence they can sustain excellence and steamroll opponents when the chips are on the line. It’s within the realm of possibility they can win, if they can win one of the wild card spots, but they need to play more like Friday night and less like Thursday night. Of course, I hope and want them to win, I am just not overly confident they will. Please, Yankees, prove me wrong.

I had started to see ugly comments from the Yankees fan base when Joey Gallo wasn’t hitting dingers, but honestly, I never lost faith in the guy. Even when he is not hitting, he is helping with strong defense and getting on base. He also seems like a cool dude to have in the clubhouse which helps team chemistry. Now that he’s been placed in the lower part of the batting order (which is apparently more comfortable for him), he’s seemingly crushing homers every day. Two last night.  He is certainly heating up at the right time, and I am happy that I’ve supported him from the start.

When the Yankees designated reliever Brooks Kriske for assignment last week and subsequently lost him to the Orioles, it rubbed salt in the wound for how badly the Yankees’ front office botched it last winter when they protected Kriske on the 40-man roster, leaving Garrett Whitlock, now enjoying success in Boston, unprotected, and subsequently lost in the Rule 5 Draft. Not that Kriske has enjoyed any major league success, but it was disappointing that the guy who took his place on the roster, Sal Romano, was lost to injury in his first game back with the Yankees. 

Thanks to former Yankee Michael Pineda, the Yankees are back in the second Wild Card spot. Pineda and his current team, the Minnesota Twins, beat the Blue Jays last night.  The Red Sox hold the top Wild Card, but the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are in a virtual dead heat with 65 losses. They are only separated by the number of wins (84, 83, and 82 wins, respectively) which means the Yankees and Blue Jays can make up ground when they play an equal number of games (assuming they win those games).

I am happy the Yankees finally pulled Gleyber Torres from shortstop and put him back at second base. I like having Anthony Rizzo on the roster, but I do wish the Yankees had been successful in prying Trevor Story from the Colorado Rockies at the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do in the off-season. With strong young shortstops in the system, like Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, still a couple of seasons away, will the Yankees make a play for a top free agent shortstop like Story or Corey Seager, or do they just try to find an average player that can fill the spot until one of the young shortstops is ready to ascend to the position? If they don’t go big, it sort of feels like they are wasting the prime years of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge. Both Volpe and Peraza are targeted for 2023 which is not too far away. Big off-season decisions for the Yankees, especially if they miss out on the play-offs or take the one and done route. 

Photo Credit: David Gravely, Southwest Times

Speaking of off-season decisions, please fire hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere. The Yankees have made significant upgrades with pitching instruction with innovative, new-age hires like Matt Blake and Sam Briend. They need to do the same with the hitting coaches. Sorry P.J., I know you are a company loyalist, and you were cheated out of a bonus a few years ago, but the Yankees can do better. 

Hopefully the Yankees can ensure the Cleveland “Indians” never win a game against the Yankees ever again. Just win today and tomorrow, please. Every game counts. No more room for poor play. 

As always, Go Yankees!