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Yankees Perspectives – July 23, 2019

The Yankees have lost two games in a row. The sky is falling. Disaster looms.

Or not…

Winning, A Lot – This is only the second time since June 15, that the Yankees have lost two consecutive games. They dropped two to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 6 and 7 to close out the first half.

The Yankees have not lost three games in a row since June 11 (Mets) through June 14 (White Sox).

(I hate to go back through the schedule looking for losses, but…) The only time that the Yankees have lost four consecutive games this year was April 8 (Astros) through April 12 (White Sox).

All of this to say that this has been a special year. A very special year. It’s good to sometimes take a moment to reflect on that.

Observation from the Stadium (Starting Pitchers) – (I may be the first to write about this, and this deserves its own post, but…) Last week I attended two Yankees games at the stadium. I always tend to get to the games early. It’s just what I do. If I’m going to the game, I like to…be at the game (imagine that).

As I sat in Yankee Stadium, I noticed something that I have never noticed before, something seemingly special that I have not seen anyone else write about. (If any of our readers can share other articles on this, I’d be appreciative…)

In both of the games, as the starting pitcher finished his warm-ups in the bullpen and walked across the field to the dugout to begin the game, he was surrounded by the rest of the starting rotation. I have been going to Yankees games since the 1970’s and I don’t recall ever seeing (or at least noticing) this. After seeing this dynamic in the first game I attended last week, I made special note to see if it happened a second time – and it did. I also looked to the opponent’s starting pitcher as he came to his dugout, he was accompanied by just his catcher and the pitching coach.

To get to the point, I like this. A lot. A ton. I think one of the jobs of the manager is to build a team. With any organization, there are teams within teams. In baseball, the starting rotation is a special team within a team. The fact that they seem to have embraced this and support each other in their pre-game rituals is something special. Players, even professionals, need support and encouragement. They need a network of people to turn to and to rely on. Building this support group among the starting pitchers is something truly special (and I think unique).

This is one of those things that a manager or team does that can make a big difference. The Yankees seem to have a special support group that has developed among the starting pitchers. This can only benefit the rotation and the team as a whole. I like this.

A lot.

Starting Pitching – The trade deadline is a week away. In the last two games, the Yankees’ starting pitchers (James Paxton and C.C. Sabathia) have not been able to even go five innings. We all knew this was a weakness going into the season. It needs to be addressed. I do not see the Yankees lasting deep into the post season with the rotation they currently have.

I’d be very reluctant to trade Deivi Garcia, but, for me, at this point, the rest of the farm needs to be fair game. Getting a top starting pitcher is going to cost – a lot. It’ll hurt. The prospects the Yankees trade away will have high ceilings. But teams play the season to get to October so they have a chance to win. October baseball seems an almost certainty for the Yankees at this point. As such, the Yankees have to plan to win now. Get an ace – or two. MadBum and/or Marcus Stroman.

But it’s going to hurt… The prospects that go will be good ones. Great ones. Still, it’s time to trade the prospects for the Major League difference makers.

The Yankees passed on their chances to get pitchers for just cash. To just note two:

Dallas Keuchel hasn’t been great (3-3, 3.58) since starting with the Braves, but he is averaging 6.2 innings a start since his return. One thing the Yankees have not been getting, and need, desperately, is to have their starting pitchers pitch deeper into games. They can’t just keep taxing their great bullpen. It seems Keuchel would have provided this. It also seems likely that as he gets stronger, he’ll provide even more innings. Innings at 3.58 runs per nine innings would really benefit the Yankees with their great offense.

Patrick Corbin (7-5, 3.40) is also averaging 6.2 innings a start this year. Yes, he was very expensive. Yes, the Yankees invested that money in other areas and it’s working out (greatly). I share him only as an example of a guy who they could have had without surrendering prospects.

The Yankees had their chances to get pitchers without sacrificing prospects. Now they need to use their trade chips. When they do, it isn’t going to feel good. It’s going to hurt. To acquire talent outside the organization, there will be a cost – in cash or players (or both).

Mike Minor – If Mike Minor (8-5, 2.86) is the pitcher the Yankees get, I’ll be cautiously optimistic. He’s been great. He’s a lefty. I love lefties pitching for the Yanks. I have no reason to think this other than the feeling in my gut, but I just don’t see him as the positive difference maker in 2019. I’d like to be very wrong about this if he is the pitcher the Yankees acquire. Maybe it’s just that he seems to be the “almost ace” the Yankees seem to get a lot – who then disappoints. Again, I hope they get him (and every other great pitcher). For no reason other than pessimism does this possible trade target not greatly enthuse me.

I hope I’m wrong.

Cashman – Brian Cashman has done a great job trading high-end prospects that don’t often star for other teams. As such, we have to hope that he’s got another great plan or two…

In this, the Yankees fans have been very spoiled. Cashman’s success (Luke Voit, Didi Gregorius, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Aaron Hicks…..) in acquiring players for seemingly no cost is remarkable. I hope he does this with a pitcher…

The expectation that he’s going to keep working miracles isn’t realistic. I’d like it to keep happening, but I don’t think it will. Some big Yankees prospects may be going in order to get the pitching they need.

Aaron Judge – I opined on this a long time ago,. but, over the last two seasons, we have not seen the legendary tape measure home runs to left field by Aaron Judge. The great majority of those majestic moon shots came in 2017. Starting last year, Judge’s approach has been to go the other way. He is doing great. This is not a complaint. Rather, it’s just an observation. I don’t believe Aaron Judge has even hit a home run to left field this year. If it works, it works, and Judge’s approach has been working. He’s been great.

I do miss the 500-foot monster homers though…

Observation from the Stadium II (Aaron Judge) – One thing I also noticed at the stadium last week, that doesn’t seem to get noted in the coverage I have seen, is the way Aaron Judge acts as a team leader. At the end of each defensive inning, Judge, jogging in from right field, was often one of the first players at the top of the Yankees’ dugout steps. He then stood there giving high-fives and congratulating his teammates. That’s leadership.

This like this, a lot. Things like this (and having the starting rotation working so closely together) are the little things that can make a big difference. It was great to see Judge doing this.

This Yankees team really feels (to the outside observer at least) like a TEAM.

Kudos to Aaron Boone and his coaching staff for developing all of this among the team.

Aaron Judge III – It happened again last night… It happens almost every single game… and, at this point, the fact that it does is absolutely and completely unacceptable…

Last night, a strike was again called on Aaron Judge on a pitch below his knees. For his entire career, umpires have been calling low strikes on Judge. This is unacceptable. Everyone knows it’s happening. It was mentioned his rookie year. It was mentioned last year. It’s happening this year. It is mentioned on the local broadcasts and the national broadcasts. It’s noted on social media. And it seems to happen with every umpire – seemingly at least once every game. The fact that it continues to happen seems to speak to incompetence. The umpires know what is happening. MLB does as well. It’s no secret.

The umpires have to know, acknowledge, and call the legitimate strike zone on Aaron Judge. If the umpires don’t do this, or can’t do this, baseball has to take action. It’s not acceptable any longer. At all. These calls change at bats and the game itself. They change the way Judge approaches each at bat. It’s not right. It needs to change – immediately.

Gary Sanchez – It’s a long season for a catcher. A long season. Sanchez is in a funk right now. Over his last 30 games, he’s hitting just .193. When he looks lost, he looks lost, and he looks bad.

Sanchez has demonstrated this year that he is putting in the work and the results have been great. He’s just in a funk right now. It’s a long season. Sanchez missed a lot of time last year. The grind may be getting to him.

The Yankees have a big lead. They need Sanchez. The need him, especially, in August and September (and October). If I was the manager, I’d give him a few days off – right now. Let him rest a bit and recover. The Yankees should be able to win with Austin Romine catching three out of every four games (or so) for the next week or two.

Give Gary a break. Let him recover a bit – and then the rest of the league will have to watch out when a rested Gary Sanchez returns to his day-to-day catching.

Triple Play – Boy, was that a game changer last night. Talk about taking the wind out of one’s sails. It happens. It’s part of the game. But, oh, man… that wasn’t fun. Hope, anticipation…a big inning looming – an easy game… a victory assured!!! And then, one, two, three…the inning was over. Bummer.

Tonight – The Yankees are back at it tonight, it’s the best part of the sport. The Yankees are our daily companion all summer long.

Let’s go Yankees!







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