Friday Morning News And Notes: 9/18/15

Final off-day of the regular season yesterday.  It’s 17 in 17 from tonight on out and there’s going to be some real juice to this weekend Subway Series.  Should be fun to watch.

– The Yankees will send Tanaka, Pineda, and Sabathia to the hill this weekend, with Joe non-committal on pitching Tanaka on normal rest again next Wednesday against the Blue Jays.  Given the state of the rotation and the potential divisional effect of winning that series, it should be a no-brainer.

– Assistant GM Billy Eppler has started his interview rounds for open GM positions.  Via George King, he met with the Mariners in Chicago on Wednesday after talking to the Angels on Monday.  I don’t see any way he comes out of this offseason without a GM job somewhere.  He’s been real close the last few years.  Good for him.

– The 2015 MiL season officially came to an end for the Yankee organization on Tuesday night when SS Staten Island lost the Penn League Championship Series in 2 games.  …

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The Yankee Offense Drives Me Insane

I know. You are tired of me writing about the Yankees’ offense. I have railed all year about it and I don’t blame you for being sick of it. It’s just that misery loves company. If I have to watch this team hit every night and drive myself to distraction, then I might as well take someone with me. Frankly, I hate this offense.

As thrilling a win as Monday night was with Slade Heathcott‘s three-run dinger to win it, the Yankees had just four hits. Last night they had five. Just a random couple of games? Hardly. The Yankees have had five or less hits in a game 29 times. That is tied for sixth most in the Majors. That is also 20% of their games or a fifth of them. Is that a lot? Well…the 2009 Yankees did that only fourteen times all season. Which is also how many times the Blue Jays have done it this season.…

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Quick Hit: Jacoby Ellsbury Stinks

Were it not for Slade Heathcott‘s incredible timing, the big talking point from last night’s 9th inning would have been Jacoby Ellsbury and his potentially back-breaking GIDP.  On the first pitch from Brad Boxberger after Dustin Ackley singled to start the inning, Ellsbury rolled a grounder over to the first baseman to start a double play and clear the bases.  After a night of precious few offensive chances, Ellsbury took what looked like the last good one the Yankees would get and flushed it.

If you haven’t been playing close enough attention, Ellsbury has been doing a lot of that lately.  He’s slumping about as badly as anybody on the team has at any point this season, and it climaxed with that GIDP in the 9th.  Ellsbury wakes up this morning with a .254/.315/.354 batting line that is, quite simply, pathetic.  That .660 OPS is almost 30 points below Didi Gregorius‘ season line and a mere 3 ahead of everyone’s favorite Twitter punching bag Stephen Drew.  …

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About Yesterday Afternoon: #TANAK

Tanaka vs BAL III

The Yankees needed to win yesterday’s game to avoid falling 5 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the division race and to avoid an embarrassingly awful four-game sweep at home. Luckily they had Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, and while he didn’t last as long as he did in his last start against Toronto , he was just as great. Tanaka kept most of the power hitters off balance, and helped shut out the Blue Jays lineup for the first time since the All-Star Break.

In his last two starts against Toronto (16 innings pitched), Tanaka is 2-0. He has walked three batters, struck out 15, has held the potent Blue Jays lineup to a paltry .164 BA and he has not allowed a home run. That last one is important because that team likes the long ball and hits it often.

So how do you shut down a team with such a potent offense? You don’t allow them to feast on fastballs.…

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Tanaka Is Still An Ace

Tanaka vs BAL III

Courtesy of Getty Images

Before watching the sadness of what was a lousy offensive performance by the Yankees last night, I watched a little bit of Baseball Tonight on The MLB Network. Pedro Martinez and Dan Plesac were discussing the Matt Harvey situation. Plesac talked about every team having a “pecking order” with its starters and relief pitchers. The point made was that Harvey was #1 on the Mets’ pecking order and they needed him. Masahiro Tanaka is still at the top of the Yankees’ pecking order.

During this season, two other pitchers have been handed that spot by the fans and the media. Earlier in the season, Michael Pineda was dominant and he was the ace of the staff. In the second half of the season, that title went to Nathan Eovaldi (sigh). But all along–except for the seven starts he missed–Tanaka has been right there giving the Yankees a chance to win.

I will admit up front that I am going to “cherry pick” some numbers.…

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Checking in on Didi Gregorius

Back on July 15, I wrote about the slow and steady progression of Didi Gregorius so I thought in light of last night’s performance and his performance against the Braves this past weekend, we could take a look at how he has been doing since the All-Star break.

In 147 at bats (42 games), Gregorius is hitting .327/.365/.435/.800. He’s batting .233/.273/.315/.588 at home and batting .419/.451/.554/1.005 away from Yankee Stadium.

Here’s his overall spray chart since the All-Star break:
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And here’s the heat map:
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Some numbers:

  • Gregorius has gotten three singles off the cutter – two off David Price – and he’s batting .375/.375/.375/.750.
  • He’s gotten one single off the splitter. .286/.286/.286/.571
  • He has trouble with the changeup, batting .111/.190/.167/.357, but he hit a double in Saturday’s game against the Braves.
  • He’s hit five singles and a double off the slider and he’s batting .259/.259/.296/.556.
  • In six at bats against the knuckleball, he has three singles – two off R.A. Dickey and one off Steven Wright.
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Thursday Morning News And Notes (And Bad Offensive Numbers): 8/27/15

This was supposed to be a post about how bad the Yankee offense has been over the last few weeks and me finally giving in and accepting that they’ve regressed and are really this bad now.  But I knew the minute I stepped into the shower this morning that I wasn’t emotionally ready to do that, so instead we’re going to recap some of the smaller stories from the last 2 days and I’ll mix in some bad offensive stats to at least acknowledge that reality.  Fair?

– The official diagnosis is in on CC Sabathia‘s right knee and it’s about as positive as it could have been.  There is no new damage in the knee, no tears or anything like that.  It’s simply the continuation of the degenerative condition that’s existed there for a while and there’s nothing that will require surgery.  That leaves the possibility open for Sabathia to return this season, and he did say he would be open to working out of the bullpen if/when he came back.  …

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Giving Drew His Due

Since his acquisition last summer, Stephen Drew has served as the punching bag of the Yankees lineup for fans and media alike – and for good reason. He batted .150/.219/.271 (33 wRC+) in 155 PA with the team last season, and this season started much the same, with Drew hitting .157/.225/.301 (41 wRC+) through his first 170 PA (a conveniently selective endpoint of June 1). Drew’s line has improved markedly as the season has progressed, but his slow start has left him with a still awful line of .199/.269/.383 (77 wRC+) … and solid defense and a knack for big home runs only help so much. Were the season to end today, keeping Drew in the lineup all season would quite likely be perceived as a complete and utter failure.

Lost in the ephemera of this, however, is the simple fact that Drew – like Didi Gregorius – has actually been a reasonably good hitter over the last three months or so.…

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Quick hit: The Yankees’ offense is offensively bad

Unless you’ve been stuck in a place with no internet or TV, you know that the Yankees have fallen off a cliff offensively the past seven days.

And last night was more of the same. Sure, the Yankees were able to score four runs, but they weren’t able to score more than that and ultimately lost the game in 16 innings. A big reason for that failure? It wasn’t Stephen Drew. It was the top of the order.

So how bad was the top of the order last night? Read this tweet from ESPN Stats and Info and weep, my friends:

And here’s what ineptitude that looks like in spray chart form:

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Alex Rodriguez, the oldest hitter in the lineup, had the only hit among the first five batters in 16 innings of play last night.…

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