Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Yankee Outlook Could Make for a Long, Hot Summer

I've been distracted by several things over the past few weeks.  Since mid-May, the Rangers had an exhilarating climb to the Stanley Cup Finals; the World Cup (we have a family pool since we're all soccer junkies) captivates us and the US Men's team surprises us as they walked through the Group of Death; the Knicks rebuilding process is taking shape as Phil Jackson learns on the job and makes a nice trade with Dallas for point guard Jose Calderon and draft picks that turn into athletics forwards; it's always fun following Giants mini-camp and the NFL as I prepare for my three fantasy football drafts; and personal stuff, as we lost a close friend and my daughter graduated high school.  But now I'm ready to get back into some Yankee baseball!

But the Yankees suck.

Maybe that's a little harsh.  They just can't hit, field or (sometimes) pitch, but aside from that, I'm sure they're OK.

They've just cut their April and May MVP, who picked a bad time to hit less than my IQ for the past month and field like he's just discovered he has hands.  (I no longer feel compelled to learn how to spell "Yangervis".)  The veteran off-season pick-ups that would make up the offensive loss of Robinson Cano (I'm looking at you Beltran, McCann and Ellsbury) are hitting a combined .247 with 22 combined home runs - which basically makes them Mark Teixeira.  Brett Gardner and (I can't believe I'm typing this) Ichiro Suzuki have been the only consistent producers in the lineup.  Even the great Jeter (hallowed be His name) is showing that taking a year off to injury and coming back at 40 years old can make you an average ballplayer.  There is absolutely no consistency in the lineup due to injury, maintenance, or lack of production.  Which subsequently affects the team in the field. 

The outfield has held up well as Gardner is able to become one of the best defensive left
fielders in baseball and Ellsbury has been better than we remember in centerfield.  However, the infield looks as if it would take me running to first to enable them to turn a double play.  With Kelly Johnson and the forementioned Yangervis Solarte playing third base - which neither of them had done before this season at any level - there is no stability.  Jeter, whose range has been suspect for most of his 30's, is playing like a 40 year-old shortstop (the last time I saw a 40 year-old shortstop, I was playing third base on a softball team).  General Manager Brian Cashman is under the gun to find a third baseman (and no, Alex Rodriguez is not available) who can hit and field.  Actually, any hitting would do since the Yanks are 12th in the AL (20th overall) in hitting and were just swept by the team ranked 13th. 

Incredibly, the optimistic side of the team is the pitching staff.  This group suffered from the loss of CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova (my pre-season pick for Cy Young) but have been stabilized by the revelation that is Masahiro Tanaka.  Tanaka has led the league in ERA for the past two months (he was pitcher of the month in May) and has provided something (the only thing?) that Cashman can point to as a success.  Typical performances from Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps have helped and Chase Whitely started a strong 3-0 but has stumbled in his last two starts (just as CC begins his rehab assignment).  The bullpen is still finding its rhythm as David Robertson has taken over for Mariano Rivera and done a serviceable job (welcome to the new reality Yankee fans - no more "automatic" feelings when the gate to the 'pen opens in the ninth).  Delin Betances seems to be the Tanaka of the bullpen, showing almost unhittable stuff in his outings.  However, he had to take a couple of days off already, which does not bode well for his second half longevity. 

The results so far have been as consistent as the weather.  Hot one week, cool the next, with no chance at getting a prediction better than 50% correct.  Without a change, or upgrade in the lineup, they're mired in mediocrity.  With the lack of offense, the Yankees are playing a brand of completely un-entertaining baseball, that makes even the most chauvinistic baseball fan long for a good soccer game.  

Just Sayin'

With Cleanthony Early, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Louis Labeyrie the Knicks win the "coolest names" category of the draft.

If the Giants offensive line is a puzzle, I'm glad that we have OL coach Pat Flaherty to put it together.  

Thank you Brian Boyle for doing all the dirty work over the past few years.  I hope we don't miss you too much. 

Fantasy Football Update: If I have the first pick, I might go completely outside the box and pick a kicker.  At least they have a better chance of making it through the season.  As my granfather would say, "Running backs, feh!"

With eight teams left in the World Cup I have Brazil, Holland and Belguim still alive in my pool - but I have a hunch that Columbia might take it all.   

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