Thursday, October 11, 2018

Let's Move On From 2018

Writing can be funny.

When I started writing this post I planned on keeping things short and sweet. I wanted to give my thoughts on the 2018 season, but there are or will be dozens... if not hundreds... of articles with people doing that same exact thing. But once I got started looking at the team over the past season I couldn't stop. I don't know if that makes you lucky or not, but I hope you can take at least one thing away from this.

I thought I'd start with what may be the biggest disappointment of the 2018 season... Gary Sanchez.


Coming into this season fans and haters alike were penciling in 30+ home runs for Sanchez. Since making his debut in 2016 (I'm not counting his two plate appearances in 2015) Gary had a batting line of .284/.354/.568. But what we got instead was sad... .186/.291/.406. And this isn't a guy that hit in the lower third of the order all season. No, Sanchez came to the plate 316 times in the four to six spots in the lineup. Thinking of the number of times he killed any sort of rally gives me a migraine headache. Hell, those types of numbers don't belong in any lineup spot regularly, let alone that high of one.

Oh, and that doesn't even get into his passed ball issues. I could live with most of those passed balls if he was hitting like in the past two seasons, but not from a guy with an OPS+ of 86. Not to mention how those passed ball issues compounded some of our starter's issues. Which leads me to my next thought...

Did you know that Sonny Gray started 23 games with an ERA of 4.90? Or that Domingo German started 14 games with an ERA of 5.57? Then there were four starts by Jonathan Loaisiga and his 5.11 ERA. And how can we forget Luis Cessa and his five starts with an ERA of 5.24? That's a total of 46 starts by pitchers with a combined ERA above 5.00.

For comparison, the Red Sox only had 15 starts by pitchers with an ERA over 4.90 (actually, outside of those 15 starts, every other start for the Sox came from a pitcher with an ERA of 4.28 or lower). 14 vs. 46. Yeah, that definitely didn't help the Yankees in their chase for the American League East title.

I should note, too, that as awesome as the bullpen was overall, the Yankees had to endure 24 appearances by Tommy Kahnle and his 6.56 ERA, 28 appearances of AJ Cole and his 4.26 ERA, and 40 appearances of Chasen Shreve and his 4.26 ERA. While some of those appearances happened when games were already out of reach, a handful of them came when the Yankees... especially with their great offense... could have come back and won the game.

Rectifying the starting pitcher problem, and doing a better job with bullpen usage, is a must for the Yankees next season and beyond.

While I've bagged on Gary Sanchez quite a bit so far, I must say that I do not agree with removing him from the starting catcher role. Honestly, the very idea of doing so his stupid. If his woes with the bat continue, along with his passed ball issues, heading into July then I'll discuss taking him out of the starting catcher role. But until then he is, and damn well should be, the Yankees' starting catcher.

Oh, and trading him for JT Realmuto, which so many people ("fans" and "experts" alike) think they should do, is silly. For starters, Gary's value is so low right now. Not that I think other teams truly think Sanchez is this bad a hitter and will be from now on, but they're unlikely to value Gary as he should be. Which means a straight Sanchez for Realmuto deal is unlikely, anyway. Plus, how do we know Realmuto would continue to hit as well in New York? It's kind of like the old saying... better to go with the devil you know, than the devil you don't.

One last thing I should mention in regards to Gary Sanchez... I was pleasantly surprised by his defense in the postseason, adding another reason to be optimistic about next season and not move on from him.

Next up is Greg Bird. What else can I say about the guy except for "yuck"? Out of all Yankees hitters that had more than a hundred at bats, Bird was the worst. He actually came to the plate 311 times in 2018, batting .199/.286/.386 with 11 home runs. Those stats are bad enough, but to come from the team's first baseman... a lineup spot that typically comes with nice offense... it's pathetic.

When Greg returned from injury in late August last season he was a solid hitter. Nothing to get head over heels about (.253/.316/.575 with 8 home runs in 98 plate appearances), but enough to be optimistic about his 2019 campaign. Unfortunately, outside of a serviceable month of July, in which he hit .265/.337/.458 (with just 4 homers, mind you), he was a black hole in the lineup.

So for the love of Paul O'Neill, it's time to move on! I'd like to see if Luke Voit can build on his successful run with the team this season, but I have other plans... which I'll share with you another time.

From a man that makes me nauseous to a man I have the utmost respect for... Brett Gardner.

For the record, I am grateful for everything Gardner's done for the Yankees since becoming a regular in the lineup in 2009. But I think it's time to have a better plan for left field in 2019 and beyond. Brett gets on base well against right-handed pitchers, as well as having more power, but his overall average bat should be upgraded. Again... more on that later.

It's time now to move on from the players, and that starts with Brian Cashman. In short, Brian has received way too much hate this season.

Mr. Cashman built a great team heading into this season, and did so while appeasing upper management by staying under the Luxury Tax threshold. Like I have said... nobody predicted Gary Sanchez would be as bad as he was, Greg Bird had a lot of believers both inside of and outside the organization, and the overall production out of left field very well could have been better if it wasn't for Clint Frazier's injuries.

On the pitching side of things, there were some that believed Sonny Gray would be the best pitcher on the staff this season, so Cashman wasn't the only one leaning on Gray. Losing Jordan Montgomery so early in the season was also very tough to overcome. Two more things you can't pin on the general manager.

Hell, we should be incredibly thankful to Cash for building such a great bullpen, without which this team would have missed the postseason entirely.

Frankly, going into this season the Yankees were... on paper... favorited by many to win the whole damn thing. And that's all a general manager can do... build a team on paper. What happens on the field after that is out of their control.

Which brings me to my final point before I wrap this up... the Yankees manager Aaron Boone. Like Cashman, I believe Boone gets more hate than he deserves. Sure, his bullpen decisions were baffling at times, but he's far from the biggest reason the 2018 Yankees season ended earlier than we all wanted. I do think building a better coaching staff, one with more experience, will help take some of the pressure off of Boone. In any industry a manager is important, but it takes good assistants and workers to make a company successful. Boone seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and having grown up around professional baseball (not high school, or collegiate, either), I think he can be a very good manager. And the Yankees have the workers to make a great team, too. They just need better assistants.

The bottom line is the Yankees are not far from being a team that could be World Series favorites year in and year out. I came up with a plan for this offseason, and I can't wait to share it with you. However, I'm trying hard to take my time with it so I don't leave anything out. Not to mention I want to think about my plans to make sure they are indeed what's best. Of course, there are a lot of smart people that read The Greedy Pinstripes (and they should, dammit!), so I fully expect them to find holes.

Finally, before I leave you, I wanted to say something about Daniel's post yesterday. I was all for it.

I posted something similar to Daniel's post earlier this season, and that subject absolutely needed to be expanded on. And Dan did a great job of it.

His point about the game being different than it was ten years ago is spot on. Being able to throw money at any and all problems, like George Steinbrenner was able to do over and over again, is no longer a viable plan. The reason the Yankees were so successful between 1995 and 2003 was their home-grown base of talent, and sprinkling in free agents here and there to complete the roster. And that's exactly what I see happening now. Like how those Yankee teams had Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera, and Williams, these Yankees have Torres, Sanchez, Severino, Betances, and Judge.

I left a name out of that, didn't I? Hmm...

I have no issue with people throwing out trade ideas, or who they think the Yankees should sign. What I have a problem with is people doing so with such arrogance and ignorance. The fact of the matter is none of us know what's going on in the clubhouse, or in the management offices. We can come up with educated guesses, sometimes based on direct quotes from guys like Boone and Cashman, but 99.9% of the time all we can do is speculate. It's sad, and is plain dumb, when so many act otherwise.

Like I said in my post where I went off on some fans... it's okay to criticize. But I believe true fans criticize their favorite teams and players like you would a loved one such as a wife or mother. Too often this season I've seen "fans" criticize the Yankees and/or their players like they actually hate the Yankees.

With all that said, be on the lookout for my post about what I'd like to see happen in the offseason. I've done a lot of research on it, along with plenty of digging into who I think will be available to the Yankees.

Thanks for reading, and have a nice day.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job, Bryan. I am in full agreement with your thoughts.


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)