Yanks Fall Flat at First Hurdle

The American League Wildcard game is over. The Yankees fell flat on their faces in the inglorious which had been their hallmark all the season. I listened in, which given that 8pm Eastern Time equates to approximately 1am in UK time. So you will have to excuse the writing because it is now 7:16 in the morning and I had to get up. It is all part and package of being a Yankees fan who lives in Europe and who happens to be a writer who is also a stay at home dad and a home educator. So late to sleep, early to wake.

However this does not diminish the annoyance I felt as the game went on. Not because of the players. They were trying their best. But mostly because as un-dynamic as the Yankees were on the field they were three times as un-dynamic when it came to front office activity both in the off season and during the season itself. This annoyance will come out as I now set out my list of what I think went wrong during the games, and you can correct me if I am wrong here people.

The only comfort that can be taken in the idea that twenty years ago the Yankees had gotten to their first post season in a generation and though they failed to go deep in the post season. The following year they began their most successful run of titles since the 1950s. The key to that run of success was a core five home grown players, and a collection of good players brought into the team with a sprinkling of outstanding pitchers. We have in place now good crop of young talent, there are some good established players, and the pitching… Well hopefully the likes of Tanaka, Eovaldi, Pineda and Nova will come back next year with much sharper than this year. CC is a little older now and whether we get the same from him as we did in the past that remains to be seen especially given his battles with his own demons as well as his battles with his body and his loss of command and speed. I hope the big guy can come back and put up one great season. Severino was a bright spot in the pitching as he gave the team some options, and Eovaldi can recover and be as sharp this coming season. The bullpen was poor apart from three guys, and in the end even they weren’t as sharp because they ran out of steam due to having to be used more and more as the starters began to leave the games early more and more.

MY LIST OF WHAT WENT WRONG:

1: Brian Cashman. He has been on the job for a long time now. While we have enjoyed some success in his tenure as the GM it is clear now that he has ran out of ideas other than turning the Yankees into a retirement home for ageing players. He has signed very few players at all, the main thrust of his work as a GM was to compound the mistakes he made last season, by sticking with Headley, Drew, and Ryan. We had batters who couldn’t run, and given their inability to score big, playing a running game, stealing bases and moving along bases quickly on balls hit deep into the ballpark should have been on option. The fact that Cashman didn’t do anything to bring in more relevant younger players who had shown they could hit the ball during the last season, or even during this season was the key reason to our not going deep into the post season. While Toronto went into the run up to the trade deadline 7 games behind the Yankees in second place, their GM went out and got players to come to the team and add their value almost in an instant. He got David Price, he got Tulo, and others. I have already outlined all this. But while they added guys to their team, we brought in only one guy and he didn’t exactly contribute, mostly because he was carrying an undisclosed or undiscovered spine injury. Which makes me question the effectiveness of the GM and front office in vetting players and checking them for injuries before making any big investments in players. Ackley finally did add to the team, making notable contributions in a few games. But not as much as Cashman said he was going to add. That is the problem with Cashman. He is too arrogant to admit that he has made a mistake. He thinks that past performance is a better indicator of future performance than current performance. This is not always the case especially when the past performance happened to be based on one or maybe two good seasons and little else. No Cashman needs to go. His time is up, stick a fork in him… He is done, done, done.

2: Pitching. It is obvious how bad the pitching has been this year. The starters had rarely gotten as far as the fifth innings for too many games. They were injured, it happens sure. They lost their stuff. CC had a problem with an addiction. All adding up to very poor pitching and a bullpen that was either unable to get the job done, or worn out. Not very good. The front office should have done something during the season to get a pitcher in that was playing well. David Price would have been good, though whether he was one of those guys who hates the Yankees to the extent that he would refuse to play for them no matter what the price (like Cliff Lee) would remain to be seen. But there were other pitchers out there and they didn’t do anything to get them. This would have helped the Yankees beyond measure I think.

3: Hitting. I needn’t dwell too much here. We just didn’t score enough. We got men on bases. One game against Boston we had 15 men left on. So while we were hitting, we were not hitting enough to get men home. That was not good enough. Last night we had an example of that when A-Rod had two men on. Keuchel was tired and with two men on, all A-Rod had to do was go out there and let the guy pitch, waiting for the bad ball or the walk that was surely to come. His instinct was instead to swing at the first ball and it was a lame pop fly for the third out, ending the inning. This lack of plate discipline and poor hitters was a good mix of what went wrong here. At no time during this season did Chase Headley take the plate and I thought he would get a runner home or score. He did of course do it, but such was his poor hitting that never once was I confident that he would do it. The Yanks need to re-evaluate their plans and start finding younger guys who can run and hit and stop being a hit em out of the park or nothing team. They have to start manufacturing the runs as well as going yard.

4: Fielding. The fielding was often comical at times. Headley was bad from the beginning of the season and continued throughout with some shockers. He did make great plays, but his bonehead plays all to often cost the team. He was not alone of course. But Did, Jacoby, Gardner were all outstanding. Tex was great until injured, Bird was a great replacement. The fielding was the best thing about the team but like I said there were times it seemed they were not even really that bothered.

So the Yankees 2015 is over. It had promise, but was ultimately a bust. We were top of the division but gave that up, almost lost out on the wildcard, but clinched it despite ourselves. Dito homefield. But in the end we were not able to ride the coattails of luck. We met a better team and paid the price. All the problems with the Yanks were evident in the game last night. They were too much to overcome. So we lost. Yet there is much to be excited about next year for, even if there is a lot to be worried about too. All I can say is that I am looking forward to the 4th of April when we get to play the Astros in Yankee Stadium. It won’t be revenge… But it will be us putting a ghost to rest, the inglorious defeat by a team that couldn’t get it done when it mattered, all season long. 2015 was about A-Rod’s redemption. 2016 will be about the team’s redemption. It starts now.

The Future Sure Ain’t What It Used To Be…

It is not like watching the Yankees as we know it. They have only got to win one game to get to the post season for the first time since 2012. Just where that will leave us when the season ends we don’t know. At this rate we will probably have to travel for the wild card game and that is sickening when you look at the fact that for the most part we had the wild card number one spot. But with only a 2.5 game lead on Houston and with four games left it is possible that we will find ourselves in the number two wild card spot and that is not good.

Here is the thing, one can’t help but feel panic when we see the way the Yankees have failed to capitalise when they have had men on bases in scoring positions. It is not good at all. In last night’s loss to the Red Sox we had 15 men left on bases without scoring them. This has been a common problem this season and one that has seen us scrapping for the wild card spot when we were riding high at the top of the division in July. Can you imagine that? Toronto rode high on the action of their GM, and we slunk down to trying to win just one game to get to the wild card spot all thanks down to the inertia of our GM.

We have got to find a way of getting the scores in. Not throwing down bunts in the first innings when we have a man on first. We have got to start getting the scoring up, we have got to get the starting pitchers to do better, and we got to have a more reliable bullpen that isn’t just hinged on three guys who are great when we got a lead. It is horrible watching the Yankees at the moment. We are used to them scoring and doing a lot better than of late. If they can’t capitalise on those men on bases then if we do get to the post season it will not be a long run. They only need to win one more game, but with CC Sabathia on the mound this might not be the night we do that. The future sure ain’t what it used to be.