Tanaka’s Challenged Ahead Of Tonight’s Game

images
After an inconsistent Spring, Tanaka has been challenged to ramp it up in tonight’s game if he want the Opening Day slot

Tanaka has been shaky this spring. His last outing, a loss to the Astros was poor too. He does not look as hot as his first season, or at least before he got injured. Many will say that it is down to the injury and the fact he has not had it treated properly (ie surgery) but has had stopgap treatments on his elbow as if the coaches are afraid to lose him for more than a handful of weeks, which is what happened last season when he was injured.

 

Looking at him this spring, it can be said that he has looked so inconsistent that Pineda should be the starter for Opening Day. Either Pineda or Eovaldi would be good candidates for that honour. Both looked sharp last season. Though both are health risks too, and keeping them fit is a big deal down the stretch.

140px-Joe_Girardi_by_Keith_Allison
Joe Girardi is a cautious manager, will he have the courage to take the Opening Day spot off Tanaka if he blows it tonight? 

Joe is a cautious manager. He doesn’t like to change things up. It can be a strength as well as a liability and certainly there are many who would say that it is a liability for him to be still coaching the team with only one Pennant and World series title to his name. Coaches with better records were fired after less time with no titles. But I like Joe, and I like what he has done in laying down the gauntlet to Tanaka. He has told Tanaka to ramp it up for tonight’s game, treating it as though it was an audition for Opening Day rather than just another spring game where he goes to the mound, throws his required number of pitches, and never mind if he pitches badly or not, he is just getting his arm in.

 

He has to go about this as if he is competing to win an honour that means nothing in the long run but is significant enough that it is made a big deal of. Who starts for you should send a message to the league. Give the ball to a guy who is shaky and undependable, and you are saying that it really doesn’t matter at all how it goes this season. Joe has broken from his usual “z’all good” mindset and has now set about trying to get Tanaka to prove he deserves the slot. There are two guys who are well and truly entitled to it. If he doesn’t do well tonight then I hope that Joe has the courage to take it from him and give it to either Pineda or Eovaldi. I don’t think he will, to be honest, but just making Tanaka think he will, might be good enough to make Tanaka show the fans and coaches that they have something to be excited about.

This day week the Yanks will have a chance to exorcise the ghosts of last year’s flop in the Wild Cards… they also have the chance, should Tanaka start, have the chance to exorcise the Opening Day loss which was down to what became an all too familiar Tanaka implosion after what had been a great start to the game. That was against Toronto of course.

Tanaka must prove that he deserves that spot. That is the challenge for him tonight. Should he not prove he deserves it, then it is down to Girardi to prove that he is not afraid to mix it up and make the brave decisions when it comes down to it.

The Yanks Falter To The Orioles Despite Some Good Pitching And Hitting

The Yanks lost to the Orioles today despite some very good pitching and some really good hitting. Without getting too bogged down in the details and the usual ranting and railing about the loss.

GOOD POINTS:

Gardner was looking good. 4 at bats produced 1 run, 2 hits and 1 RBI… not bad for a guy who had a delayed start to spring due to an injury that he had picked up in the wild card game.

Gregorius looked good too hitting wise and his partnership with Castro looks very good from a defensive perspective. He also got a run and a hit in out of 3 at bats.

Castro looks like a strong acquisition for the team and he knocked in an RBI in 2 at bats.

Ackley and Denorfia both had strong outings both getting in runs and hits, with Denorfia picking up 3 RBIs.

Pazos looked good pitching and I would like to see some more of his work as he faced three batters in an innings work and struck out two. His was the pitching performance today that I felt stood out for its sharpness and intent. The others just didn’t do the job and gave up the game with their lack of control and intent.

BAD POINTS:

Basically, the hitting was good though men were still left on an infuriating number of times, and the team failed to convert the 15 hits for enough to win the game, scoring only ten from those 15 hits, while the Birds were 11 runs from 9 hits. It is that kind of hits to run ratio that the Yanks will have to address if they have any hope of winning enough games to take the division this year.  When you look at how many men were LOBs the Yanks had in this game, that was twenty to the measly 6 LOBs the Orioles had. That is not good enough and something the hitting coaches are going to have to remedy before we break camp and head back up north.

Nova looked sharp at points. But was still not crisp by a long shot and had a shocking lack of command with his fastball. He pitched 4.2 innings, gave up 5 hits, 5 runs… all earned runs too… three of them homers, and struck out 5 batters. Not good enough to get the fifth slot no matter how good some say he was. CC was bad, but Nova has not been anywhere near as good as he should be, and it is puzzling that neither pitcher seems to want the fifth starter spot.

The rest of the pitchers were not good today. They just gave away runs with poor command and gimme balls that sat up and were there to be hit and were hit. None of them really stood out besides Pazos as contenders for the Bullpen.

Castro did give up an error, but Refsnyder’s conversion to 3rd base is definitely looking a little shaky. Down but not out, I would say, after two crucial errors in the 10th inning that put Tracy behind and ultimately cost the game. The first error was on him, the second was a tough one though because the ball took a bad hop off the dirt and bounced up hitting the kid in the face, that is not much of an error really. But it is counted as one. The first error too could be argued as not being the fault of the young star as his throw to first was a cannon shot, and Romero who came on for Ackley failed to keep a hold of the ball when trying to make a tag. I feel the first error should be on him and not on Refsnyder as the throw was good, it was the first baseman’s failure to stay on the base and catch the ball, or hold it when he did make the catch and tag Christian Walker. That would have been the first out of the 10th and that would have made the pitcher’s job a whole lot easier.

So that is what I made of this game. The Yanks are making progress in a lot of ways, but the hitting is still a major problem as is the pitching and the trouble with the control. I hope they can iron these chinks out now, or at least before the season gets into the first two weeks as we need to start making progress in these areas if we are going to win. Especially the LOBs, Hits to Runs rations and the RISP ration. These have got to be worked on if we are going to be able to overcome what looks like a shaky pitching rotation and mid-relief bullpen. We can have the three best closers in the game but if we don’t get into a winning position they will not be worth anything. We MUST work on this now.

Tanaka Blows It Against The Nats: But It Is Not All His Fault

The thing that bugs me about the Yankees loss to the Nationals is not the loss in itself. You are bound to lose games when you play as many as they do in baseball. The thing that I hate the most about the game is the way they lost.

Tanka did not look good in the least bit. He was a mess. The Yanks had bases loaded in the top of the third with nobody out, and they still failed to get even one run on the board. Aaron Hicks got out swinging before Ackley grounded into a double play. Strasburg was faced with an innings that was getting away from him and yet he managed to get it done. That or the Yankees had a chance to get runs on the board but failed to take it. It was the same old story from last season. They had the men on bases, in good scoring positions but just couldn’t get the job done.

Then we handed it over to Tanaka who was a sensational pitcher in his rookie season, up until the point when he got injured. Of course, anytime he blows an innings or a game in such spectacular fashion as he did last night there will always be the wrangling of hands and the lamentations that he was not recovered from the injury which brought his stellar rookie season to an end. No doubt Joe will have to fend off these questions again. It seems a regular occurrence whenever Tanaka blows a game like this.

But it was bad. He gave up a homer to ex-teammate Stephen Drew which would surely hurt the Yankees front office’s pride given they got rid of him. But I am happy that he scored and wish him well. I liked him a little bit more than Headley.

Then the innings got worse for Tanaka. He just couldn’t get his stuff right in that innings and in the end he lost 7 runs. We can only scratch our heads and wonder is this a portend of things to come? Is this what we are to expect in the upcoming season? Tanaka just not having the same stuff as he did. We already have a lot of concern over the way Nova is blowing hot and cold and is not able to lock down the fifth starter slot, which would surely be his ahead of CC given the way that Sabathia is not adjusting to the lack of pace which had been a hallmark of pitching in the past. The pitchers have been the biggest question mark this offseason, and the run up to spring and they continue to be so. As does the hitting.

The blame cannot be all on Tanaka, the hitters must take the blame for this game going so far out of the Yanks hands. Had Hicks or Ackley been able to get even one of those guys home while getting out, this game would have been different. Tanaka lost the plot. But he was let down big time by his hitting, and it is worrying to see two new guys keeping up with the same hitting MO from the last season. Failing to get scores on the board, and putting the pressure on the pitchers until they lose the game and plot with a spectacular collapse.

The Cuban Job- How Baseball IS Bigger Than Politics

I am excited by the breakthrough with Cuba. I have long worried about the people of the small nation. I see this not as an ideological thing though of course I was a Marxist as a youth. I am not so much a Marxist now. I do not care for politics or anything like that. I think it is a con. Seeing the nature of politics on this side of the Atlantic and in the US, I can only say with sadness that in my minds eyes, politics is a fraud. Politicians will say anything to get votes.

The suffering of the people of Cuba was not made any softer by the blockade. It didn’t help them at all, and quite frankly the idea that they would help them buy nearly starving them was ridiculous. It didn’t galvanise them against their Socialist leaders, it galvanised them to their leaders. Because they enabled the Castro regime to sell to the people the cold brutality of the capitalist pigs. The blockade is gone now. It should have gone a long time ago…

This baseball trip, with Tampa playing against the national team is a great thing. The one passion that the people of America and Cuba share is baseball. Though some would say that baseball is not as big a deal in the US as it once was, but for those who love the sport, not because of local loyalties, like Toronto fans who don’t bother with the team until they are a winning one, and then you cheer for them because they are winning and are everywhere, waving your Blue Jays gear in people’s faces, until they start losing.

There are fans of the sport, who although wanting their home teams winning, will go and watch them even if they are losing because that is all they want. The joy of watching the game. For them, football, NASCAR and all the rest are nothing compared to baseball. This is something the people of Cuba get too. I hope this is a success. I hope the baseball is great. Cuba has given some of the finest players to the world. It is about time we celebrate that and forget the rubbish of politics. Sport should be better than that. Sadly a lot of the time it isn’t, but I hope this is one time it will be. If not for nothing, at least it will give Disney something to make a movie about a few years from now.

The Yanks Are Starting To Look Good

So the Yanks have started to get it together and about time too. There comes a point when the whole thing starts to get worrying. Spring games do mean nothing. But for the sake of form you need to start getting better, you need to start stringing together the results. Batters always say that spring is too long. Because they are always ready after a few games. Though that is not always the case. Some hitters are in no fit shape to be playing come opening day. The Yanks seemed not ready or able last season to hit. This year they are hitting. Castro’s certainly an exciting addition and has given the hitting and the infield a much-needed shot of power and skill. I cannot wait to see what he will do at the Stadium. However as good as the hitting has become over the past week. The thing that I am particularly liking is the way they have started to win.

Yes, I know these games are filled with players who will in all probability spend the rest of the summer in double and triple A, and this has played its part in the scores and victories that we have seen. But when we see the main locks for the roster playing and putting together the kind of matching winning runs that we have seen lately it makes this Yankees fan feel a whole lot better knowing that if they can put those kinds of innings together where they take control of a match and get runs on the board, then it means they will do that in the regular season. That’s just a given really. So yeah. We have put in some good results later.  Since they had a break on Monday they have won all their games including two games against their rival Red Sox and Blue Jays both of whom fielded their main starters too. To beat them now, while it means nothing, does a lot of good for the team’s mindset going into the season. Beating those teams mean it all, we need to that if we have any ideas about getting into the post season and that is what counts. So if these wins can get the mindset of the Yanks right, instilling in them the idea that they can beat those teams from early on, then they will hopefully be able to carry that on into the season.

I am starting to feel a lot better about this year’s Yankees, I certainly feel a whole lot better than I did last season. I certainly didn’t feel anywhere near as good about them as I do this year.

Spring So Far

So I have tried to keep away from commenting on the games since the Spring Games started up because as Joe Girardi says… these games just don’t count. They don’t really matter who wins or lose the games. They are just about getting the players up to match fitness as we like to say in soccer over here in the good ole UK.

I am bothered to see the Yanks lose so many games given that I just don’t like losing games. But that really doesn’t mean anything. At this point, most of the time the players are minor league players, prospects, hopefuls and tryouts. They are not the main players that will take to the field come opening day in April.

They have however given us a whole lot to think about, so I would like to look into that right now. The most important thing would be to look at how the projected members of the 25 man roster fair in the spring. Some look good, some don’t, that is how it goes. Patience is the key. But as a Yankees fan, I hate to see the team losing, and seeing them fall 3-7-1 is getting to be something that I cannot tolerate. Now sure, cooler heads run the team than the firebrand Boss who ruled the team like a tyrant and who is credited with running the team during one of the more storied times in the team’s history.

He would be spitting fire to see the team not only lose so many of its games, but it would also be the manner of in which the team is losing that would annoy him. It’s the lack of hitting that is happening. It is not even down to scoring homers, but the failure by the hitters to move the men around the bases. To end up their half of the innings and still leave men on in scoring positions. It is not good enough. No while the Yankees are struggling to take advantage of men on bases, even in spring, there is still the sense that last season’s problems have not gone away.  They have got to start winning. They must start winning.