Thin Hope And Acceptance

The 2016 season of the New York Yankees has not gone well. Those of us who watch the games every day have a sense of doom every inning, every pitch, every at-bat and every bullpen decision. Nothing has gone right and everything has gone wrong. Joe Girardi‘s body language in the dugout looks like a man being leeched by some 19th Century doctor. For this generation of Yankee fans, this is unprecedented and shocking. Perhaps, what is needed is a new perspective to get us over these troubled waters.

First of all, this is a fan generation that has not seen a Yankee team with a losing record since 1992. That first season under Buck Showalter saw a team finish ten games under .500 and twenty games back from first place. This is also a fan generation that has not only seen consistent above .500 teams but also teams that only failed to make the playoffs three times since 1995.

You all know that such sustained success is impossible right? You understand it is also unnatural, right? That kind of run doesn’t happen in sports. Perhaps the closest thing to that kind of sustained success would be the New England Patriots. And sooner or later, that run will come to an end too. It has to. Continue reading Thin Hope And Acceptance

About Last Night: The good, the real ugly, and what’s wrong with Betances?

Last night’s game was frustrating, maddening, and pathetic to watch. The Yankees’ offense, which had been the bane of the team’s existence for most of this young season, actually broke out in a good way in Fenway Park against Red Sox starter David Price, but Nathan Eovaldi decided to follow up his near no hitter performance in Texas last week with a positively dreadful performance in Fenway that ruined the Yankees’ chances of snapping a four-game losing streak, and instead, extended it to five. The Good Alex Rodriguez is suddenly not dead, you guys! It’s amazing how 35 plate appearances Continue reading About Last Night: The good, the real ugly, and what’s wrong with Betances?

Game 23 Quick Recap: BOS 8 NYY 7

There was heavy rain in the forecast all of last night, and there were questions as to whether the Yanks and Sox would get last night’s series finale in.  A rainout would have been a better outcome for the Bronx Bummers, as they gagged away another one late to drop the series, their 5th straight game, and their record to a lowly 8-15 on the season.

It was all about blown leads for Yankee starter Nathan Eovaldi.  He was given a 3-1 lead in the 3rd after a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI double and a 2-run home run by Alex Rodriguez and he promptly blew it in the bottom half by giving up 3 runs on 4 singles and a walk.  The offense came back with 3 runs in the 5th on a 2-run double by A-Rod and RBI single by Mark Teixeira, and Eovaldi blew that lead in the bottom of the inning by serving up a 2-run homer to Travis Shaw.  For once it wasn’t the offense’s fault.  They gave Eovaldi plenty of run support and he couldn’t make any of it stick.

The 6-6 tie lasted until the bottom of the 7th, when Ivan Nova sandwiched 2 outs around a Shaw base hit and exited for Dellin Betances.  Betances has been scuffling lately with some poorly placed curveballs, but it was the heater that failed him last night.  Christian Vazquez was sitting fastball on the first pitch and Dellin threw one right down the pipe.  Vazquez hit it for the go-ahead 2-run shot, giving him his first home run of the season and the Red Sox the sweep of the series.  The Yankees scratched a run across on a double and a wild pitch in the 8th, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.  5 losses in a row, 9 of the last 12, and 13 of the last 17.  Truly pathetic stuff. Continue reading Game 23 Quick Recap: BOS 8 NYY 7

Game 23: Eovaldi vs. Price

New York Yankees Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, DH Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Starlin Castro, 2B Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Chase Headley, 3B Travis Shaw, 3B
Aaron Hicks, RF Brock Holt, LF
Ronald Torreyes, SS Christian Vazquez, C
Austin Romine, C Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Nathan Eovaldi, SP David Price, SP

Continue reading Game 23: Eovaldi vs. Price

Game 22: Pineda vs. Porcello

Chase “Deadball Era Power” Headley has not had an extra-base hit since September 27, 2015. That’s a stretch of 24 games and 92 PA with nary a double, triple, or home run. That being said, he is a career .286/.333/.571 hitter against Rick Porcello, with a double and a home run in 15 PA. Could tonight be the night that he rediscovers some semblance of pop?

New York Yankees Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Alex Rodriguez, DH Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Brian McCann, C Travis Shaw, 3B
Starlin Castro, 2B Brock Holt, LF
Didi Gregorius, SS Christian Vazquez, C
Chase Headley, 3B Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Michael Pineda, SP Rick Porcello, SP

Continue reading Game 22: Pineda vs. Porcello

Game 21 Quick Recap: BOS 4 NYY 2

I didn’t catch a second of this game and I’m really glad about that.  Feels like I’ve already said that 2 or 3 times this season.  That can’t be a good thing.  Whatever, the Yankees aren’t a good thing either.  They stink.

Masahiro Tanaka was a beast for the first 6 innings, holding the Red Sox lineup to 3 hits and no runs.  He tired in the 7th, put a few runners on, and Joe left him in the game one batter too long.  Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a 2-out, 2-run double off the Green Monster to tie the game at 2 and end Tanaka’s night.

Dellin Betances was ready to enter in the 7th and Joe didn’t go to him.  He came out in a tie game in the 8th and served up his second straight home run to a left-handed batter, David Ortiz to be specific, to put the Yankees behind 4-2 and take the loss.  From a 2-0 lead with 2 outs in the 7th to a 4-2 deficit in a handful of batters.  Those are the type of games the Yankees expect to win, but the bullpen formula failed this time.

– The offense was non-existent again.  A-Rod hit a solo home run early, Starlin Castro went 2-3 with a triple, and Brett Gardner had 2 hits and a ribbie single.  The rest of the team went 1-18.

Chase Headley Watch: 0-3 at the plate and made his second error of the season in the field.  He’s hitting .140/.265/.140.

– The Yankees have scored 74 runs in 21 games.  They’ve been held to 2 or less in 11 of those 21 games.  It’s pathetic.  It really is. Continue reading Game 21 Quick Recap: BOS 4 NYY 2

Game 21: Tanaka vs. Owens

New York Yankees Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Alex Rodriguez, DH Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Brian McCann, C Travis Shaw, 3B
Starlin Castro, 2B Brock Holt, LF
Chase Headley, 3B Ryan Hanigan, C
Didi Gregorius, SS Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Masahiro Tanaka, SP Henry Owens, SP

Continue reading Game 21: Tanaka vs. Owens

Going to the Headley

How bad have things become with Chase Headley? Men have a rather impolite saying when going to the men’s room. Perhaps you have heard of, “Going to the Head.” Lately, I have been saying that I am going to the Headley. And there is much about his first month of the season that sings the Ty-D-Bol theme song. His stats are clean, man, clean as a whistle. Looking for doubles? Nope. Triples? Nope. Homers? Nope. Hits with two outs with runners in scoring position? Hits with men on first and second? Hits with men on first and third? Hits with men on second and third? Nope, nope, nope and nope.

Chase Headley has gotten off to bad starts in his career. But never this bad. And, it would not be too much of a concern if it did not bookend how he finished 2015. September of last season was nearly as bad. That month, Headley played in 31 games and had twenty hits with only three extra base hits. Mind you, that is three more than this April. But even so, his triple slash line last September was, .179/.252/..223. That only looks good against this April’s .148/.277/.148.

I was really bullish on the Yankees getting this guy. I bought into that outlier of a season he had in 2012. To my embarrassment, in our IIATMS previews in 2015, I selected Headley as my biggest surprise to be in 2015. It did not exactly happen that way. I always loved his glove. And then last year happened and I cringed every time he threw the ball (as did Mark Teixeira). I was so wrong. According to Fangraphs.com, Headley was the seventeenth best third baseman in baseball last year. Even Yangervis Solarte was better. At least his fielding has been solid to great this season.

So what has happened to Chase Headley? His line drive percentage is comparable to seasons past. His strikeout rate has been stable with his history. There are two major differences. First–and I know everyone is sick of hearing about this stat–the velocity of balls off his bat are down. Second, he is taking many more pitches and swinging less often.

Let’s start with the second one because it sounds counter intuitive. It is good to be patient, right? Maybe. His overall swing percentage this season is at a career low of 35.5%. Compare that to his lifetime rate of 43.8%. There is a dramatic difference in the amount of pitches he swings at out of the strike zone. This year, that percentage is 18.2% compared to a career norm of 25.6%. That all sounds good, right? So far, yes. But then we come to the percentage of strikes.

In that latter category, Headley is swinging at 58.3% of pitches in the strike zone compared to a career average of 67.7%. In his monster year of 2012, Headley swung at 70% of strikes. My theory on this is that he is not as aggressive as he used to be and I believe I have observed this watching every game thus far. He should be mashing balls in the middle zone of the plate and too many pass by unchallenged. Then he is forced to swing at a pitcher’s pitch. He seems far too passive at the plate. This is my theory. Debunk at will. I fully admit that I am not as good a stat guy as my colleagues.

I also believe the above information bleeds into his amount of hard hit balls. Starting with his season in 2012 and covering the two following seasons, the percentage of balls he hit hard were near 35% or higher. Then last season, it went down to 28% and this year is at 23.8%. His home run to fly ball percentage took a big dip last season and, of course, is nonexistent so far this season.

Can Chase Headley recover? Sure, anything is possible. He won’t be THIS bad all season. That said, I am not sure he will become a productive hitter again for the Yankees. His offense had a negative value last year and we are now talking a season and a month of not being productive. His last two full months of play have been alarming. How patient the Yankees are will be interesting to see. The organization will probably be a lot more patient than I. Continue reading Going to the Headley

Friday Morning Links: 4/29/16

Playing catchup here.  It’s been over a week since the last linkaround, but we’ve got a real good batch to get you ready for Yanks-Sawx this weekend after yesterday’s off-day.  Here we go.

– Last Wednesday, Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes weighed the option of trading one of the Betances/Miller/Chapman relief trio once all 3 are active.  I think it’s too early to think about that, but it’s definitely something the Yanks should do at the deadline if they’re out of contention.

– Last Thursday, Stacey looked at the slow starts for three important hitters over at BP Bronx.

– On Monday, el duque of It Is High… dished his first really good “the sky is falling” rant of the season.  Understandable considering it came right after the Pineda BP game.

– On Tuesday, Marly Rivera of ESPN got Luis Severino’s thoughts on his early-season struggles and what he’s doing to try and fix them.

– On Wednesday, Tanya Bondurant of Pinstripe Alley revisited the idea of extending Nathan Eovaldi this season.  More outings like his last one and that becomes a real possibility.

– Chris Carelli broke down how Masahiro Tanaka has lived up to his contract so far for SNY.

– Yesterday, Mike Axisa dug deep into Michael Pineda and Eovaldi’s problems giving up too much contact.  Check it out for the FIP/BABIP plot graphic alone. Continue reading Friday Morning Links: 4/29/16