Monday, July 10, 2017

For Yankees, Something Has to Change

The Yankees closed out the official, if not numerical, 1st half of the regular season yesterday, and not well.

Masahiro Tanaka started, and his run of good starts stopped at 2. He gave up 5 runs in less than 5 innings, and had to be taken out.

Between them, Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren, Tyler Webb, Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman pitched 4 2/3rds innings, allowing no runs, 3 hits and 2 walks. If Tanaka had pitched proportionally well over 8, 7, or even 6 innings, the Yankees would have been in good shape.

The Yankees got 3 runs in the bottom of the 4th, thanks to an RBI single by Chase Headley, immediately followed by a home run by Clint "Red Thunder" Frazier, the rookie's 3rd since his callup last week. (Still doesn't justify trading Andrew Miller and throwing away about 20 possible wins since last August. Frazier would have to become, at the very least, the next Paul O'Neill to justify that.)

Brewers 5, Yankees 3. WP: Jimmy Nelson (8-4). SV: Corey Knebel (14). LP: Tanaka (7-8).


So here's now things stand, as we hit the All-Star Break, 14 weeks into the 26-week regular season:

* The Yankees, having gotten off to a bad start, then on a hot streak, have seriously cooled off. They are just 45-41, 26-17 at home and 19-24 on the road.

* As far as pitchers go, they continue to need at least 1 new starter, as both Tanaka and CC Sabathia have seriously struggled; and at least 1 new reliever, as Miller has not been properly replaced and Shreve, Warren and Tyler Clippard keep getting called upon, because Joe Girardi is an idiot who does not know how to handle a pitching staff.

* As far as hitters/fielders go, Aaron Judge has been the Rookie of the Year, and shortstop Didi Gregorius, catcher Gary Sanchez, and, when healthy, 2nd baseman Starlin Castro and designated hitter Matt Holliday have gotten the job done.

* But they continue to need a new 1st baseman, as Mark Teixeira has retired, Greg Bird has been hurt, and Chris Carter and Rob Refsnyder have not been the answer, although Ji-Man Choi has been encouraging early in his Yankee tenure; a new 3rd baseman, because, while he has come on strong lately, Headley cannot be a long-term solution; and possibly a new center fielder, as Jacoby Ellsbury has been inconsistent, although the possibility that Frazier might be the answer is increasing, though by no means conclusive.

* Brian Cashman, who made some of these holes -- the 8th inning hole by trading away Miller for prospects including Frazier, the starting pitching hole by trading away Ivan Nova for prospects, and the center field hole by trading away Carlos Beltran for prospects -- is making no trades to fill these holes, and the trading deadline is 3 weeks away.

* They trail the Boston Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the American League Eastern Division, 2 in the all-important loss column. The Tampa Bay Rays are also 3 1/2 back, but, since they've played more games than anybody in the Division, they're 4 back in the loss column. The Baltimore Orioles, the early leaders in the Division, are now 7 1/2 back, 7 in the loss column. And the Toronto Blue Jays, who got off to a horrifying start (for them), are 8 1/2 back, 8 in the loss column.

* If the current standings were to be the standings at the end of the season, the Playoffs would have Tampa Bay at the Yankees, winner vs. Houston, and Boston vs. Cleveland; and Colorado at Arizona, winner vs. Los Angeles, and Milwaukee vs. Washington.

The All-Star Game is tomorrow night, in Miami for the 1st time. The season resumes on Friday night, against the Red Sox at the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villany.

At the moment, things do not look good for the Yankees. The 1st half of the season has ended on a down note.

It has been 8 years since the Yankees won the World Series, or even an AL Pennant; and 5 years since they won the Division, or even reached the AL Division Series.

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman still have jobs.

Something has to change. Either Girardi and Cashman have to justify their jobs over the remaining 12 weeks of the regular season, or they have to lose them.

If neither happens -- as happened in 2013, '14, '15 and '16 -- then the Yankees will not make the ALDS in 2017, and might not in '18, '19, '20, '21, and so on.

Something has to change.

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