WestCoastYankees-The Blog

WestCoastYankees-The Blog

WestCoastYankees-The Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly For The Yankees

Mandatory Credit: nypost.com
It sure got ugly last night in the Bronx, didn't it? One night after Carlos Belran walked-off the Houston Astros with a sac fly, the wheels came completely off for the Yankees on Tuesday night, as Ivan Nova looked more like a high school pitcher than he did a middle-of-the-rotation arm for a division title contender. Nova failed to get out of the fifth inning, giving up seven earned, seven knocks, and walking four. That's just unacceptable, I don't care who you are. The Yankees went down in flames, 15-1. The damage looked as if it was going to be minimal however, as the Angels had the Blue Jays down to their final out in the ninth, before Toronto capped off a comeback, winning the game, and taking over sole possession of first place in the AL East.

It was indeed ugly, and once again, the bats were nowhere to be found, putting up a single run last night, and tallying a whopping five runs over their last three contests. Here we go again with the ice-cold bats. Unlike their previous batting slump, an extended slump heading into September will most likely bury any chance of them winning the AL East--even if the schedule down the stretch plays out in their favor. Make no mistake, the Blue Jays aren't going anywhere, and if the Yankees don't pick up the pace, they'll lost out on the Wild Card shot as well, and be sitting at home for a third straight October.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Are the Yankees Really Contenders?

Mandatory Credit: blogs.mercurynews.com
The question as to whether or not the New York Yankees are truly contenders in 2015, is something fans and pundits have been analyzing since the start of the campaign. I predicted this team to win only 74 games, and finish out of the money. And why not? The lineup was riddled with aging, brittle veterans who were well past their primes. The bullpen as it was originally laid out, looked phenomenal, but the starting rotation was iffy at best.

Fast-forward to Friday night. The Yankees once again find themselves on the short end of the stick against a much inferior Cleveland Indians team, one that with a win Friday night, will have taken four of the previous five meetings heading into the weekend. Thursday night, the Yankees made Josh Tomlin look like the second coming of David Cone, and Friday night, Carlos Carrasco repeated the performance. Every team has a team they struggle with--even the elite teams of the game. When I was growing up, the Yankees' Achilles heal were the Seattle Mariners. No matter how bad the M's were, they OWNED the Yankees. During their last dynasty, it was the Anaheim Angels.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gaining Steam, Yankees Need To Just Handle Their Own Business

Mandatory Credit: Al Belle/Getty Images
Things have seemed to calm down finally in the Bronx. After two series with the Blue Jays over the past two weeks, one in which the Bombers were swept, the other they took two of three in Toronto, the Yankees find themselves once again sitting atop the AL East with a two-game lead. The good? The emergence of young first baseman Greg Bird, who went yard twice in helping the Yankees to a comeback 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The sweep of the Twins was huge for the Yankees, as they open a long home stand that will see the Tribe come in tonight, and the Houston Astros after that. What else was good? How about Nathan Eovaldi? He pitched an excellent game, and is proving the naysayers wrong in his ability to improve with each start he makes. Finally, Alex Rodriguez snapping out of his prolonged slump, crushing his 25th career grand slam in the process. A hot A-Rod only means good things for the Yankees moving forward.

You can't have the good without the bad. Mark Teixeira getting injured can never be a good thing. Just when it appeared Tex was going to avoid the injury-bug for the first time in several seasons, he may be headed towards a DL stint. Take 30 bombs out of that lineup, and it puts more pressure on the rookie Bird to continue performing, which by all indications, might not be an issue. You're looking at the future at first base for the Bombers, and once Tex's contract expires, rest assured, it will be Bird who is the next in a long line of fabulous Yankees' first baseman to take the baton.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Win Is A Win, But...

Mandatory Credit: nj.com
The New York Yankees finally showed some life last night, coming on the flight of a ball that was absolutely crushed by the elderly Carlos Beltran. By now you know, that home run put the Yankees ahead, and gave them a 4-3 victory over the first place Toronto Blue Jays, and helped the Bombers leap frog back into the top spot in the AL East...for now. The problem, is that the Yankees had multiple opportunities all night--and failed to come through.

I've compared this team to the 2012 version: the one that crushed everything in sight with the long ball, only to look pedestrian against the eventual AL champion Detroit Tigers. I'm going to hold that position. According to baseballsavant.com, the ball that Beltran hit--a 97 mph fastball, was his first home run hit at that velocity for quite some time. Beltran looked old during his first two swings, which has been the case during most of his Yankees' career. A player of that talent will occasionally run into one, so give him the credit for not missing it.

The Yankees were down 3-0 before the Beltran bomb, but had eight runners stranded prior to the 8th inning. The difference between a team that is hungry like the Jays, and a team that is going through the motions like the Yankees? The Jays capitalized when opportunities presented themselves. The Bombers were in good position to jump out early on David Price early in the game, and couldn't cash in. Price wasn't nearly as dominant Friday night as he had been a week earlier in the Bronx, and the Yankees still couldn't make him pay. A pair of runners in scoring position in the third inning, nothing. What do the Jays do? They come right back and put up three runs of their own--the only runs they would score in the game, and put the Yankees into press mode the remainder of the game.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bomber Bats Awaken, Now There's Work To Do

Mandatory Credit: usatodaysports.com
So they finally did it. The Yankees broke out of their week-plus hitting slump, snapped their losing streak, and left Cleveland winning one out of three. The last time I addressed the lineup issue, the Yankees were in first place. Now? They sit 1/2 game behind the white-hot Toronto Blue Jays. I'm a person that stands behind the things I say and write...right, wrong or indifferent. For example, this past off-season, I predicted the Yankees were destined for a 74-win season at best. Today? They sit twelve wins from that prediction, with plenty of time to get there. Okay, so I was wrong. The team has remained healthy, and the bats have carried the team most of the season, along with better than expected pitching from the rotation.

I also predicted a renaissance year for Alex Rodriguez when everyone else I knew, scoffed at such an idea. When I was writing for Yanks Go Yard, my staff often heard the phrase ".270/20/70". That was my prediction for A-Rod after missing an entire season, and on the verge of turning 40. Today? .271/24/63. He's well ahead of the pace even I had set for him, and thank goodness, because I would hate to think about where these Yankees would be without his bat back in the middle of the order. I'll take the credit for calling that one.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

20 Years Later: The Greatness of Mantle Still Rings True

Mandatory Credit: allposters.com
It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since Mickey Mantle passed away. Today marks the twentieth anniversary of his passing, and the fact is, nobody is mentioned more in the game of baseball when a tape-measure shot is hit by a current big leaguer than "The Mick". What's hard for me to believe, especially with the recent Hall of Fame class being inducted a couple of weeks ago, is the fact that Mantle only received 88.1 percent of the vote to be elected on the first ballot. With so much scrutiny made on percentages these days when the voting results are announced, I want to know who the hell left Mantle off of their ballots?

We know the obvious stats: the 536 career home runs, the 18 World Series long balls, he and Roger Maris' chase of the Babe back in 1961. We know the backstories: the son of an Oklahoman miner who died prematurely, the carousing with teammates like Billy Martin and Whitey Ford, and the numerous injuries he suffered throughout his career, partially because of bad luck, partially because the man simply did not take adequate care of himself. Were you aware of Mantle (who played long before the advent of sabermetrics-based statistical analysis), has the highest OPS+ of any center fielder in big league history? He had two seasons with an OPS+ of over 200, and came close to a third and fourth time in 1962 and '63, posting seasons of 195 and 196, respectively. Higher than Willie Mays, higher than Duke Snider, and yes, even higher than Joe DiMaggio.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Yankees Have Made Their Bed

Mandatory Credit: Ray Stubblebine via NY Post.com

It's Monday, ten days into August and a handful of things have become crystal clear. The Toronto Blue Jays are the real deal, and the New York Yankees have a whole slew of issues up and down their once heavy-hitting lineup. Other than Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, and Brian McCann, this team is loaded with a bunch of .260-ish, little-to-no pop performers. All the talk at the non-waiver trading deadline suggested the team should consider parting with prospects to land a top-of-the-rotation arm. Last I looked, two of the three Yankees' starters over the weekend (Nathan Eovaldi and Masahiro Tanaka) pitched well enough to win. They didn't. The Yankees didn't--at all this weekend, and Toronto leaves town believing THEY are the best team in the AL East.

And why shouldn't they? They've won eight straight, the Yankees haven't scored a run in 26 innings, and don't get me started on their team batting average or average with runners in scoring position since last Wednesday. Recently, I compared this team to the 2012 version: the one that killed the competition with the long ball, and fell flat on their faces in the ALCS as the Tigers won the pennant, Derek Jeter was never the same, and the Yankees haven't sniffed the postseason since.