Hello Fellow Genius Makers!
I have been catching a lot of well-deserved flak for not writing in a long time…As I said, I started a new job and then went on a 2 week Europe trip, but I have been watching and or looking at the box scores when away. I have wanted to write after a bunch of games, but just have not been able to…so let’s get to it!
I will focus on the Cleveland series and then go through my thoughts from the last bunch of weeks.
Losing 3 of 4 at home to Cleveland is disappointing; Cleveland is not very good. The first game, I felt the Yankees did not hit well as they had a ton of hittable pitches and couldn’t cash in on them. Friday night, Carrasco was tough to hit so I give them a pass, but the defense and not hitting the bullpen was an issue. Beltran let a ball go over his head that he took a terrible path to and then gave up, McCann dropped a popup in the stands (not an easy play, but one that should be made) and the next pitch was a HR, and Brendan Ryan uncharacteristically messed up a slow bounding ball that cost us a run and could have been more. Maybe his absurd moustache got in the way? The win was a good one as we watched Severino once again show that he has solid major league stuff. I still think he will need something he can throw that is less than 88 MPH, but throwing a consistent 96-97 with an 88 MPH change that has good movement is very effective. His slider at 88 also is the one concern I have, but because he mixes in a cutter at around 91/92 his ball is moving in a lot of different directions between the cutter moving left, the change going down and right and the slider down and to the left. Another breaking pitch in the 82/83 range would be very effective and make everything else even stronger. He is exciting though and has pitched to a 2.74 ERA in his 4 starts. It is pretty clear he can be a mid 3 ERA guy already. Last night was frustrating to watch Betances give up the game winning run because he simply could not throw a strike with his breaking ball and an excellent fastball hitter jumped on what he knew was coming and drilled a HR. Betances has elite stuff, but needs to get better command of his pitches so he can throw either one at any time (which he already does). He still has been great, so I am nitpicking, but 27 walks in 66 IP is one area for improvement.
A couple of other comments from the series:
1. I don’t understand Girard’s thought process in resting guys like Ellsbury and Didi against a righty? While the pitcher was not better against righties, why not get them a blow when a lefty is on the mound; they obviously were not hurt as Girardi brought them in later in the game anyway (which doesn’t really give their bodies rest anyway because they have to get ready twice in many ways). As I have said before, if you want to give someone rest, it would be best to shut them down for the day and know you won’t use them and this way the body does get a full rest. It is also why I stated I didn’t want any of my players going to the All Star game; why do I want to have to rest my players during games that matter so they can play in games that don’t matter?
2. In the last game, Gardner made an accurate throw home on a short fly ball to get a double play. The play made by JR Murphy though was an excellent one. Gardner’s throw was not going to make it on a fly and Murphy decided to come up and get it on a shorter hop (it was a little longer than he would have liked) which was as close as he could move up and still make the tag. It was a very tough play and he adjusted very well and made a fantastic “scoop” and tag. At 24 years of age, he is a solid backup and can develop into a nice starter. He can hit the ball the opposite way and is more of a line drive hitter than a HR hitter but has room to grow. His eye could get a little better in terms of taking walks, but his defense is solid
3. McCann came into the game to catch after DH’ing and made a terrific throw (Didi snapped the tag well too) to throw out a base stealer. McCann’s ability to throw guys out has been great this year to go along with a very solid .780 OPS. I don’t like his new stance as I don’t see it being that effective the way he sets up, but that may also be because it looks very uncomfortable to me.
4. CC getting injured may be a blessing. I am not sure how bad his knee pain is, but maybe this will force Girardi to make the decision he should have made a while ago. There is not a single pitcher in all of baseball who has pitched as much as CC (138 IP with a 5.27 ERA) has who has a higher ERA…not one! That says it all. The other factor is he simply does not have good stuff and his command is not good enough to get rid of it. Yesterday was a microcosm of his issues. He is ahead in the count and tries to come inside with his 89-91 MPH fastball and he leaves it over the middle of the plate and gets ripped for a double. Later, he has the same exact situation and he tries to come in again and leaves it over the plate and allows a 2 run HR. You simply can’t make those mistakes on a consistent basis and be remotely effective. I have said since the day they moved Warren out of the rotation that Warren (more on Warren later) deserved to stay in there and CC should be used as a LOOGY and they could drop Capuano and have another bench player to pinch hit for Didi against a lefty or Drew (who has not been as horrible since the All Star break with a .718 OPS since the All Star break). Still not good, but not the anemic .536 OPS he had last year or even the .526 OPS he had through May this year. Michael Kay made a comment that I thought was absurd when he said that Drew probably felt that he could help the team the most by getting to 20 HR’s. I assume that was Mike’s opinion and Drew wouldn’t have said that, but regardless, it is a stupid comment because hitting 20 HR’s by itself doesn’t mean a whole lot…so if he gets 5 more HR’s and doesn’t get any other hits or walks or play defense, that is the best way he can help the team??? Of course, not, the best way he can help the team is to play solid defense and give us at the minimum an OPS of .720 and hopefully more.
5. I don’t like the umpiring crew we had for Cleveland; even though we got a huge break in the win when they incorrectly ruled that Didi was within the area of turning two on a bad throw by our rookie 1st baseman (Bird). We were not necessarily getting the bad calls with the exception of last night where the umpire was simply bad. Ellsbury got called out on a clear ball 4 in the 9th inning. Man on first with one out (and a fast man) or 2 outs and nobody on is a huge difference. Very inconsistent and what made it even more annoying was he had just called a better pitch a ball earlier in the count…really bad and impossible to bat when an ump is so inconsistent.
6. One last comment about last night’s game was when Cleveland’s pitcher was really struggling throwing strikes and after a single and a walk to Gardner, Bauer went 3-0 to Beltran. I said out loud do not give him the green light and when Michael Kay asked the question I said NO! Beltran actually got a very good pitch to hit and when he swung I thought he might have gotten it, but he didn’t and flew out to the warning track. As it turned out, the pitch he got was a good one to swing it, but I still would have given him the take sign as their pitcher was struggling. Announcers said he has earned the right to swing 3-0, but more important the manager should control game as the players should not be as smart as the manager when it comes to strategy. I don’t think their pitcher could throw 3 strikes in a row at that point and what happened is the reason you don’t swing in that spot…you could still get out on a perfectly hittable pitch…
· Speaking of strategy, I had a ton of issues with Girardi over the weeks I didn’t write. It started with some of his inexplicable moves with the bullpen taking guys out who were throwing very well (like Warren) after only 2/3 of an inning so he could bring in Betances in a tie game and pitch him for 5 or 6 outs and then being stuck without anyone in extra innings. I have said this for years (I used to get mad at Torre for doing the same thing) if a guy is going well in a close game you want to ride him as long as you can because the game may go into extra innings and you never know when a good pitcher just doesn’t have it. This cost us a Toronto game (Unfortunately, I knew Toronto would be the team we had to worry about) and led to that bad sweep they had against us. It hurt because he also ended up wasting Betances’ innings and he wasn’t available after that. The ripple effect set us up for that bad run.
· Continuing on Girardi (you have to allow me to vent after this much time)…One of the strange moves made by Girardi was when he took out (I think it was Justin Wilson) who was throwing fine, but did throw a wild pitch on an 0-2 count that allowed the tying run to 2nd base. So on a 1-2 count he switched to Betances (I think) and Betances ended up walking that batter and we lost the game. The move itself in the right spot I am OK with (meaning taking a pitcher out mid-stream for a specific reason I am fine with), but it was surprising in the situation that was going on. That being said, it was Joe’s pompous, arrogant, condescending response when asked about it by the media that ticks me off. After the game when questioned about it, Girardi simply said it was "Strategy." When prompted again, he said something like "It was strategy--that's all I'm saying on the subject--you can print what you want." He pulls that crap all the time and it bothers me a lot. He is simply not genuine in his responses; I think we get BS all the time from him. I don’t think he is a bad person and he is not a bad manager, he just takes too long to make decisions (such as moving Robby Thompson off of 3rd base), but his condescending tone annoys me.
· In the Cleveland series there was a play that nobody mentioned but when JR Murphy was throwing the pitch back to the pitcher he threw it off the helmet of Brantley the lefty batter. I am not sure if I have ever seen that throwing back to the pitcher?
· Eovaldi has been a very lucky pitcher having a 13-2 record and a 4.24 ERA. It goes to show you why the record of a pitcher is more about run support…note I said more and not exclusively as you need to understand the situation and sometimes pitch according to that situation. Meaning with a big lead you may groove a few more pitches to avoid walks and you may even give up a run to get an out, but regardless 13-2 is very lucky with a 4.24 ERA.
· I said I would get back to Warren…He has been excellent over his last 10.2 scoreless innings allowing only 4 hits and 2 walks and striking out 11. As I have said, should be in the rotation. His ERA as a starter was 3.59 and there was no reason to move him. Hopefully Mitchell comes back strong, but we are very deep at starters and this is more the reason to pull CC, maybe we get lucky and he is injured and it forces Girard’s hand?
· Finally, I wanted to note the retiring of Posada and Pettitte’s numbers. It was cool to see but I was more interested in listening to some of their comments; I paid more attention to Posada. But I thought it was interesting that the first person that came to mind when they were asked the toughest hitter to get out was Edgar Martinez. Manny was also brought up, but Posada talked about how Edgar was so balanced at the plate and he didn’t have a weakness you could exploit. Edgar should be proud as that is best compliment you can get as a hitter.