Musings after a sweep and before a West Coast trip

So that was series against the Royals was something, right?

After the way the Yankees were embarrassed by the Texas Rangers this past weekend, I was almost positive that the Royals would wipe the floor with them. I usually don’t like being wrong but I was so glad to be wrong this time.

What a fun three games to watch. There weren’t really any stressful or upsetting moments. The Yankees took the lead in the first two games and even in yesterday’s game, with Pineda on the mound, you felt that if he held the Royals to the one run, the Yankees could claw their way back into the game. Okay, that’s a bit hyperbolic. Overcoming a one-run lead isn’t that hard to do, usually. And who was the guy to give the Yankees the lead and ultimately the win? Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez who is now only 19 hits away from 3,000.

His performance so far this season must be driving certain New York area writers completely bonkers.…

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This Year’s Yankees Already Mastering The Art of Being Consistently Inconsistent

It’s only the last week of May and already this has been quite the season for the New York Yankees.  Barely a step or 2 past the quarter pole and it already feels like we’ve experienced multiple seasons in one.  The Yankees started off 3-6 in their first few weeks, then rattled off a white hot 18-6 stretch into early May to ascend to the top of the American League, and followed that up with an ongoing 2-10 run that has dropped them back to .500 and started many fans and writers scrambling for the towers to wave the white flags.

More important than the streakiness itself has been the way the Yankees have looked like completely different teams during the respective streaks.  They looked sluggish and old to start the year 3-6, showing little on offense and getting inconsistent starting pitching at best.  When they were 18-6 they were a lethal combination of speed at the top of the order and power in the middle with a lockdown bullpen preserving a lot of close wins.  …

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Pessimistic Praise for the Jacob Lindgren Promotion

I don’t disagree with Brad’s view that it’s time for Jacob Lindgren to enjoy the culture clash of life in NYC. (Side note: I wish on-the-ground reporters would report more about what it’s like for a Mississippi native, who then attended Mississippi boarding school and Mississippi State, to move to NYC at age 22. My NY-CA move was jarring at 18, and my NY-WI move was jarring at 30, but I can only imagine what it’ll be like for Lindgren….) But while I’m in favor of the callup, I’m pessimistic that he’ll succeed from the get-go.

Here’s the big red-flag question: How will his unimproved control will play (a) in the bigs and (a) in repeat viewings? In just 46.2 minor-league innings, 4.4 BB/9, with no real improvement in AAA this year (4.1 BB/9). Big-league hitters will be all the more able to lay off the out-of-zone stuff, not only because they’re better, but also because they’ll see him repeatedly — unlike his minor-league opponents.…

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Slade Heathcott’s Long and Winding Road to the Majors

sladeAs you likely know by now, Slade Heathcott made his major league debut Wednesday night when he pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the eighth and then played center. This is not just notable because arguably the Yankees’ most important offensive piece, Jacoby Ellsbury, hit the DL, causing the Yankees to call up their first round pick from the 2009 Draft. Hopefully, Heathcott gets an opportunity to pick up his first hit sometime soon, but as we wait for that I thought I’d look back on Heathcott’s long road to the Bronx.

If you have followed the Yankees’ farm system at all the last five or six years, you know the name Slade Heathcott and why I am so excited to see him finally break into the majors. Granted, his stay may be a short one for any number of reasons, but considering how miniscule the percentage of minor league players to ever make an appearance in the majors is, this is no small feat.…

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About Last Night: Eovaldi, The Fifth Inning, and Other Thoughts

Eovaldi vs WAS II

Courtesy of Getty Images

The New York Yankees keep giving Nathan Eovaldi leads and the pitcher just cannot seem to handle the windfall. Last night, the Yankees had just spotted Eovaldi with a 6-2 lead after scoring four runs in the fourth and another two in the top of the fifth. Eovaldi’s response was the walk the first batter he faced in the bottom of the fifth. Yankee fans everywhere threw stuff.

Sure enough, it was the start of a bad inning that turned a good chance for a win (calculated at 89% at that moment) to a loss. Eovaldi only recorded one out in the inning.

You get to the point where you wonder if Nathan Eovaldi needs a good sports psychologist. Like many starting pitchers, Eovaldi has trouble with the first inning. His ERA this season in that frame is 7.88. But then he settles down nicely in the second through the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, it gets ugly.…

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On Using These Off-Days To Plan For The Near Future And Improve The Roster

The Yankees had their first scheduled off-day since April 30th yesterday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  At the end of a stretch that saw them play 30 games in 31 days, they were playing baseball like a tired team that needed a rest.  The bats had gone cold, the bullpen had been worked hard, and there wasn’t much energy to their losses during their 1-5 week last week.  Despite that long stretch and rough finish, they still wake up today in first place in the division, with a respectably positive run differential (+15), and with another scheduled off-day on the horizon before they head home for the weekend.

The Yankees are still in a good spot, and they’re going to hopefully get some more pitching help back in the weeks to come.  I’m confident that 2 days off this week will help bring some life back to those old legs and cold bats.  But to make the most out of this now friendly off-day schedule, I think the Yankees need to do more than rest.  …

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Quick Hit: The Soft Roster Underbelly

Petit HBP vs TOR

I know, Gregorio. It pains us to watch you play too. Courtesy of Getty Images

I got Axisa’d on this yesterday, but with the way the last few games have gone down I did want to touch on the back end of the roster topic while it was still relatively fresh.

The Yankees have definitely over-achieved in these first 27 games.  I don’t think you’d find too many people who would say they honestly believed the Yankees would be 17-10 with a +32 run differential right now.  They’ve done it by finding a pretty good balance between above-average starting pitching, elite late-game relief pitching, solid team defense, and a return to the “power and patience” approach that served their offense so well for years with just enough speed mixed in.  Top to bottom, they’re a pretty good ballclub right now even without Tanaka.

What the last few games showed us, especially in the late innings, is that they are also still a ballclub that could use some upgrading at the back end of the roster.  …

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Bad outcomes do not always result from bad decisions

tanakaThis may seem like a basic statement, but sometimes the right decision made with every piece of data and insight available at the time can result in a bad outcome. The converse is also true. Some call this luck, either good luck or bad luck.

When Ned Yost calls for another bunt that works out in his team’s favor, it doesn’t automatically mean it was the right decision. It just happened to work out. Happens all the time all over sport and clearly beyond it, as well.

On Monday, our favorite Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL for at least a month. Could be longer, but we hope not. It’s a blow to the team, no question.

Let’s remember back to last year, when Tanaka initially got hurt. MRIs, doctors, lots of doctors. The best elbow/arm specialists on the planet. And their unanimous conclusion was rest, treatment, and rehab. These are medical wizards, not a bunch of mopes gathered outside around a food truck (no slight on food trucks; I love them).…

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: Is Adam Warren Pitching For His Job Already?

I alluded to this in last night’s game recap, so you should probably read that first if you want to read this post in the proper context.  Adam Warren made his 4th start of the young season last night and it was the first start that you’d call good.  Before last night, Warren had struggled to translate last year’s relief success back to a starting role.  He wasn’t pitching deep into games, he wasn’t getting a lot of whiffs or strikeouts, and his stuff seemed much more hittable than it did last year.  There was talk before the season about whether Warren was better suited to work as a reliever, where he could highlight his best pitches and air out his fastball, and his early SSS results back up those points.  So with April almost over and Warren the clear “worst” pitcher in the rotation, is it already time to ask if he’s pitching for his spot?

Consider what’s happening tonight.  …

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