The calendar has turned to March, the winter isn’t over yet,
but we have put behind us one of the coldest February
months on record. It’s time to look forward to warmer weather
and warmer thoughts by turning our attention to Spring Training
Baseball in Florida and our beloved New York Yankees.The thought
of a now retired Derek Jeter, who represented the last of the players
that created a dynasty starting in 1996 sends a chill down the spine of
all die-hard Yankee fans, that no Nor’Easter could rival.
I have many concerns regarding this 2015 team that looks to
carve out a new identity, but in giving a quick overview, I figured
I’d start with …
1) THE POWER OF THE PEN :
The Yankees have given significant attention to relief pitching
via Free Agency and trades, putting together a deep,
hard throwing, young and talented Bullpen.
Although they allowed David (Houdini) Robertson to ..escape from NY
they added Andrew Miller, David Carpenter and Justin Wilson.
Along with Dellin Betances ,Adam Warren and a long list of potentials
like Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley, and possibly Jacob Lindgren or
others from the farm, the Pen should be the biggest strength of the team.
And for the savvy Yankee fans out there (in my opinion, that is the vast majority)
you understand that a dominant Bullpen is an enormous positive !!
2) CUT TO THE CHASE :
Even though the Yankees paid too much for Chase Headley, and ..we don’t
know if Gregorius or Drew will hit, we do know that the infield defense
will be greatly improved from last year.
3) SAVED BY THE BEL :
As far as I’m concerned, the turning point of the 2014 season from an
Offensive perspective came early… April 17th to be exact, when
Carlos Beltran flipped over the half wall along the right field line
running full speed chasing a foul ball vs. Rays at the Trop.
(if you go back and look at that play, it’s a miracle he didn’t
break his neck).
Carlos, if you recall got off to a torrid start up to that point,
but was never the same after that play.
Yes, Beltran is a year older, but he had surgery on his elbow to
remove a painful bone spur. Couple that with the fact that Mark
Teixeira’s wrist has had another year to fully heal, and you can at least
hold out hope that the middle of the order will generate better power numbers.
1) FROM CORE FOUR TO SORE FOUR :
When you look for concerns on the 2015 Yankees, you need to start with ..the Starters.
The top FOUR (repeat top four) in the rotation each have very real and significant
health concerns, which cost them to collectively miss the majority of the 2014 season.
Masahiro Tanaka (partially torn elbow ligament), Michael Pineda (surgically repaired
shoulder), CC Sabathia (knee, etc.) and Ivan Nova (recovering from TJ surgery).
Add to those health concerns, the fact that the Yankees parted ways
with the THREE pitchers who did most of the heavy lifting in the second half of last year
with regard to starts, innings, and wins.
Shane Greene was traded, Free Agent Brandon McCarthy signed with the Dodgers,
and Hiroki Kuroda returned to pitch in Japan.
Yes, the Yankees did trade with the Marlins for an exciting young flame thrower
Nathan Eovaldi who has enormous upside potential, but make no mistake
he is a project for Larry Rothchild since he did give up more hits than
any other pitcher in the N.L.last year.
Chris Capuano is back as the fifth starter until Nova returns, hopefully in June.
The net/net is that Cashman & Co. decided not to sign or trade for a top of the rotation
Starter, and are really rolling the dice on this one.
2) SHIFT HAPPENS :
When a Righty is on the mound (and that is 75% of the time), every starting position
player on the 2015 Yankees will bat Left-handed.
That might sound like a good thing, especially when you consider that three are
My concern is we will have an entire line up looking to hook/pull the ball,
especially at the Stadium … hitting right into the teeth of an extreme shift.
When base hits are taken away by the shift, batters try to hit the ball over the
shift and into the seats. Bad habits develop like … swinging too hard,
pulling (rolling over) outside pitches, and developing a more pronounced
Batting Averages and On Base % on the Yankees have suffered more than
lack of Home Run production over the last few years.
Consider this.. the Yankees finished 7th in the A.L. (15 teams) in Home Runs,
and 14th in On-Base % !!
Yet all we heard from Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman is that we didn’t hit enough Homers.
Of all the regulars last year, Jacoby Ellsbury lead the team with only a .271 B.A.
Just to put that into perspective, the 1998 Yanks had a .288 team B.A.
Righty hitting Martin Prado had a .316 B.A. in the two months he was
here last year, and in my opinion would have been perfect hitting in the
two hole behind Ellsbury.
The focus is clearly on all Left-handed Home Run hitting, but unfortunately
that is not the formula for winning Championships.
The Yankees need to look back at those ’96 – ’00 teams and realize that
high B.A. and On-Base % is key to winning in the post season.
You must be situational …hit to all fields …grind out at bats…steal a base ..
shorten up your swing to get a runner home from third… hit behind the
runner… hit and run … bunt to move a runner over…and at opportune times
BUNT TO BEAT A SHIFT !!
I love when the Yankees hit a Home Run as much as anyone (ok not as much as John Sterling),
but not when the middle of the line-up hits .220 with a below .300 On-Base%, that’s
sacraficing way too much for the long ball.
Changing hitting instructors won’t matter unless management sees the error of their
ways and starts paying attention to good old fashion B.A & On-Base %
and making it a priority !!
Brian Cashman has said many times we’re the Bronx Bombers, not the Bronx Bunters.
I would ask him …when looking at the legendary Yankee Home Run hitters of the past
to take a gander at their …
Batting Averages and On-Base %
Babe Ruth .349 B.A. / .484 On Base %
Lou Gehrig .340 / .447
Joe DiMaggio .325 / .398
Mickey Mantle .298 / .421
3) TAX TO THE MAX :
After hearing for three years the Yankees were determined to get below
the $189M payroll to hit the reset button and lower their luxury tax %
they in fact… did not.
By not doing so, they now have to pay an insane 50 % luxury tax for every
dollar over the established league MAX, causing them to shy away from MAX
(and Jon & James for that matter)This also had a ripple effect that made
them back away 19 year old Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada.
To summarize .. the Yankees can win the AL East (no longer a beast) and even make it to
the World Series, but their chances (and the 2015 season) rests on the shoulders (& elbows)
of Pineda and Tanaka at the top of the rotation. If they both go down, so will the season
Fingers crossed !!
I know what you are thinking .. I forgot someone.
HIS WRITTEN APOLOGY SEEMED (excuse the pun) SCRIPTED :
There is nothing more to say about you-know-who.
Let him DH and hope he still can produce.
I won’t hate on him, but I certainly don’t feel that
he deserves anywhere near the attention he is getting
My prediction is he will put up ok numbers for a while
but go from the DH to the DL with some kind of injury.
As always …
GO YANKEES !!