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.

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