Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Air of Optimism...


Photo Credit: Robert Sabo, via The New York Post

A week later, life in the Yankees Universe is much better…

I was not going to write a post this week (my day job has been running overtime lately) but I couldn’t leave the top post on the site sitting at “Preparing the White Towel”. Yes, I was extremely frustrated with the Yankees last weekend if you could not tell. Funny how a nice five-game winning streak can change one’s perspective. Alright, the latest victim is the Baltimore Orioles but regardless, a win is a win and five in a row is trending in the right direction. After watching their record fall to 21-21, the Yankees are now 26-21. 

While I am not overly optimistic about the team’s chances in October, I am glad they’ve rediscovered the winning formula. Nothing like a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, who, surprisingly after last weekend, were within arm’s reach of your favorite team. A week later, the O’s are nothing but a small speck in the rearview mirror. 

I like to win…I don’t like to lose…not sure which one I feel more strongly about. I guess I’ll just go with loss-avoidance. That is why the series of losses really had me feeling down. I know, trust the process…have faith in the Yankees, they are an excellent team…I get it. Unfortunately, this is a season like no other and it’s so friggin’ short. Any small bump in the road is a major upheaval of epic proportions.  I might be exaggerating slightly (maybe?) but it’s frustrating to see teams like the Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins seemingly on cruise control.  The only solace I had leading up to this weekend is the fact the Yankees are better than the Boston Red Sox and the sorry-assed cheaters out of Houston. 

When this season started, I sure did not think I’d be grateful for Clint Frazier and Luke Voit. I’ve never been down on Voit but I also never saw him as one of the team’s best players. Congrats to him. He is everything that we once thought Greg Bird would be or at least could be and more. Voit currently leads the Yanks with 16 homers and 37 RBIs.  A testament to his durability this season, he leads the team with 159 at-bats. DJ LeMahieu is 19 AB’s behind Voit, after missing some time while on the Injured List earlier this season. Nice job today by LeMahieu today, by the way. He’s never been a flashy player, but he is the guy you want in the thick of battle. His defensive plays never cease to amaze me.  The only amazement is why haven’t the Yankees signed LeMachine to an extension yet. This needs to be a high priority in a couple of months. I really hope the Yankees do not let LeMahieu hit the open market. I think the Yankees hold the edge if all offers are similar but why take the chance? He’s earned his money for a few more years at Yankee Stadium. Back to Voit, thanks Luke, I am glad you were able to quiet your detractors. I couldn’t believe how many wanted Mike Ford as the starting first baseman. Sorry, my mind never went there. Ford is not much more than a career backup. Voit is proving why he comes from a state that bills themselves as the “Show Me State”. He’s showing us he is a very good player.

Clint Frazier is the one I owe an apology to. I am sorry, Clint. 

I’ve always thought he was talented and maybe that’s why I was so frustrated with his performance the last couple of years. I’ve also said if the Yankees don’t play him, they should trade him. Now, after the way he’s played, you can’t trade him AND he has to play. Sorry Brett Gardner, it was a good run. You’ve been an excellent company man over the years, but age happens. Your days as a regular are over. Stick around and join the coaching staff when the shitshow we call 2020 is over. But it is time to let the younger guys play. I am glad Clint took advantage of this opportunity. It would have been a shame if the Yankees had traded him, only for us to watch this player blossom from afar. In 93 at-bats, Frazier is batting .280/.387/.516 with .904 OPS. He has 5 dingers and 19 runs batted in. While it pains me to say, I have far more trust in Clint right now than Giancarlo Stanton if for no other reason than the latter can never stay healthy. Stanton, if he comes back, should be the permanent DH. But then again, who knows if or when that will be. Seems like this will be life with Stanton for the duration of his Yankees career.

No, I am not giving Aaron Judge a free pass on this one. He is as unreliable (from a health standpoint) as Stanton. Going forward, I only want outfielders who are 6’5’ or less. LOL! I am not serious about that one, but I do wish Judge and Stanton had greater reliability for staying on the active roster.

With thirteen games left in the season, the Yankees are 4 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s probably a pipe dream to think they can make up the ground although it is far from impossible. It kind of makes you wonder where the Yankees would have been if they had not fallen into an extended slump. The Yankees are currently the seventh best team in the AL (out of eight possible playoff participants). At this point, every one of top eight teams should make the playoffs. The best team from the outside looking in is the Seattle Mariners at 20-25. They lead the Arizona Diamondbacks today and should pick up their 21st win but they aren’t catching the Houston Astros (23-23) despite how much I would love for it to happen. The Toronto Blue Jays were able to hold onto second place in the AL East today with their win over the Mets. The Yankees will soon get their chance to make a statement to the Blue Jays like they just did with the Orioles. The two teams play against each other in seven of the next ten games. After an off day tomorrow, the Blue Jays are in the Bronx for three games. A quick weekend trip to Boston, and then the Yankees will make a return trip to the Queen City of Buffalo next week for four games. Now is the time to play like a playoff contender. Keep the momentum rolling. Hard to believe that the regular season comes to an end just two weeks from today. This is a great time to get hot!

Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill, via The New York Post

I really hope Adam Ottavino rediscovers himself before October gets here. It’s a sad day when he has to be bailed out by Jonathan Holder. After taking over for J.A. Happ in the top of the sixth inning this afternoon, he did fine with the first two batters, getting Jose Iglesias to fly out and punching out Ryan Mountcastle. But then, as it has lately, things unraveled. Otto walked Pedro Severino (I hate hearing the name “Severino” and not having it attached to the Yankees although I have no interest in Pedro). A single by Renato Nunez caused Aaron Boone to pull the plug on the native New Yorker and bring in Holder who mercifully ended the threat. I’d much prefer getting back to scenarios where Ottavino is bailing others out.  Ottavino remains one of my favorite players on this team and I’d really like to see him have success in some upcoming games to get back on track before the real games begin. 

Congratulations to Albert Pujols and Alec Mills for their impressive days today. Albert, the one-time St Louis Cardinal great and now long-time Los Angeles Angel hit a historic home run at Coors Field in Denver against the Rockies. It was the 660th home run of his Hall of Fame-bound career, tying him for fifth place on the All-Time list with the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays. Nice company, very nice indeed. The next milestone will be in 36 home runs if Albert can get there. If so, he’ll tie Alex Rodriguez at 696.

Photo Credit: David Zalubowski, AP

Then there’s Alec Mills. Who the heck is that? The Chicago Cubs right-hander just completed the second no-no of the season by getting former Yankees legend Jace Peterson to ground out, completing the day of no hits for the disappointing Milwaukee Brewers. Mills is only in the Cubs rotation because Jose Quintana is on the IL. Good way to make an impression on your coaches and teammates. Lucas Giolito of the White Sox has the only other no-hitter this season (against the Pirates in mid-August). There seems to be Chicago theme here.

I don’t care if J.A. Happ is pitching better lately. I want no part of him on the 2021 Yankees roster. Sorry, but not a fan. Deivi Garcia, on the other hand, keep it coming. This kid seems to grow with each performance, and I’ve liked his mound presence from the start.

I am glad baseball is fun again. The difference between winning and losing. Much better to win games you should…or shouldn’t…than to lose games you should win. If the Yankees can win at least four of the upcoming games against the Blue Jays, I will be feeling much better about the upcoming post-season regardless of where the teams end up in the AL East. Taking 2 of 3, followed by 3 of 4, would work even better. Time to show the Jays it is not their time…yet.

As always, Go Yankees!