Category Archives: Players

2015 Yankees: Image, Identity problems?

So the last of the Core Four (+ Bernie) is now gone. After farewell tours for Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, the focus won’t be on an individual player, but on the team’s performance.

Or will it?

The past two years, the focus was on two of the most respected players in baseball, and two future certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famers. The farewell vibe was good.

Two players who spent their whole career with one team. Who were leaders on and off the field. Jeter, in particular, was not only the face of the Yankees, but the face of baseball.

The Yanks may have an image problem in 2015. For who now becomes the face of the Yankees? Oh yeah, someone who is returning from a full-year suspension because of steroid abuse.

A-Rod. No Yankee in 2015 will have as much Yankee “tenure” as A-Rod.

Barry Larkin on ESPN mentioned about the lack of cohesivity with the Yanks. It’s one thing to go and sign different players each year to fill in positions. But it’s like trying to find the right piece to complete a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes the pieces don’t mesh.

With the core four and Bernie, you had cohesiveness. The extra pieces (Tino, O’Neill) fit in perfectly. But the Core Four and Bernie came up through the system. They played many years for the same team. They were leaders.

It is hard to find leaders among mercenaries. When your big names all came from other teams, who is the leader? CC, Teix, Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran, A-Rod, Prado …. all brought in from elsewhere. Some, like Ellsbury, Tanaka and McCann, are too new to be leaders, and especially in the case of Tanaka, there is the language/cultural barrier.

Larkin mentioned the need for the Yanks to build from within. This may take years. There is no homegrown product, like a Mattingly, a Core Four (+ Bernie), who is a leader on this team right now. The closest thing to that would be the Yankees’ best player (according to WAR, Wins Above Replacement) of 2014—Brett Gardner.

No offense to Gardner, but do you consider him the face of and leader of the Yankees?

So who is the leader of the 2015 Yankees? Is it a guy who was suspended for all of 2014 and, let’s remember, only played in 44 games in 2013 because of his second hip surgery? A guy (A-Rod) who sued his very own union and in extension, the players themselves? His own teammates?

Here is a problem for next year’s team. The image of the Yanks will be A-Rod, and it won’t be a nice image. There will be attempts to celebrate certain accomplishments that A-Rod is looking to achieve in 2015. After all, he is just six homers from tying the great Willie Mays on the all-time list. He is 61 hits away from 3000. He is 39 RBI from 2000 and 81 runs scored from 2000.

But how “celebrated” will those achievements be? After all, they are tainted.

Is that what the “highlights” of 2015 will be? Celebrating tainted “accomplishments”?

After all, 2013 and 2014 didn’t bring much in the way of accomplishments other than the farewell tours of Mo and Derek. 85 and 84 win seasons. In both seasons, their Pythagorean records stated that they should have finished below .500 in both years. They weren’t exactly a pretty team to watch in both years, especially offensively. Often, they were flat out boring on the offensive side.

Without many true Yankees, or many who have been with the team say, longer than 2009, who becomes the leader? The face of the team?

It may very well be that it may have to be not a player, but the manager.

It may be that Joe has to be even tougher than usual. More the guy who ripped some players on Thursday. How that will play in a clubhouse of aging veterans, many with very few Yankees ties and who are, for lack of a better word, mercenaries, we won’t know. It may not go over well.

So there may be no identity or true leadership, and the face and image of the 2015 Yankees may be A-Rod.

I don’t know about you, but it’s not something I’m looking forward to.

The Yanks need to develop another Core Four + Bernie. It’s way beyond time to fix that farm system and bring up players who know and behave the Yankee way (all they have to do is follow the steps of Jeter and Mo, for example) and become leaders. It’s unfair to expect the on-the-field excellence of Jeter, Mo, Posada, Pettitte and Bernie, but the Yankees need a new image and new leader—from within. Someone who comes up through the system. Someone who becomes a star and is a true leader. Someone who becomes the face of the franchise with a good image.

Someone like Jeter and the rest of the Core Four + Bernie.

Who will it be? How long will it take?

As for now, the thought of A-Rod being the image and face of the Yankees, and maybe their “leader” doesn’t excite me in the least.

What about you?

 

Game 162. Yanks win season/Jeter’s finale, 9-5.

The Yankees got off to a 9-0 lead and held on to win the season finale—also the last game of Derek Jeter’s career—9-5 on Sunday.

With the win, the Yankees ended the season at 84-78 and all alone in second place in the AL East (Toronto lost to Baltimore in their season finale and finished 83-79). The Yankees finished 12 back of Baltimore in the division, and 4 out of the final wild card spot.

In 2013, the Yanks finished tied for 3rd, but with 85 wins. So this year they finished better in the division, but with one less win. It was their worst record since 1992.

With the offseason moves (and lots of spending) on Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran, Tanaka, as well as the returns of Jeter and Teixeira, it was a disappointing season after a hopeful offseason.

Derek Jeter got an RBI infield single on a Baltimore chop in his last at bat to retire with 3465 hits (sixth all-time) and a .310 lifetime batting average. It was his 50th RBI of the season. He had lined to SS in the first. He was pinch-run for after his hit and finished his final game 1 for 2. His final season: .256-4-50 with 10 SB in 12 attempts. OPS+ 75.

The Yanks got four in the third on a two-run triple by Ichiro, Jeter’s single, and a SF by Teixeira.

They got five in the seventh on a two-run double by Jose Pirela, single by John Ryan Murphy, double by Austin Romine and single by Chase Headley.

Meanwhile, Michael Pineda was cruising. After he was pulled, the bullpen made things a bit sloppy by giving up five to Boston in the bottom of the seventh.

Pineda had an ERA of 1.89 this year. Too bad he only started 13 games and the Yanks didn’t give him much run support.

Pineda (W, 5-5, 1.89) 6 1/3, 1 R, 3 H, 0 walks and 10 K.

Rogers 1/3 IP, 4 R, 1 H, 2 walks, 1 HBP, 1 K. Overall ERA 5.72.

Warren 1 1/3, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 2.97.

Phelps 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 4.38.

The postseason now begins for 10 teams. In the AL Oakland (who barely held on to make the postseason) will be at KC for the wild-card playoff game, winner gets the Angels. The other ALDS has Detroit vs. Baltimore.

In the NL, SF will be at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game with the winner getting Washington. The other NLDS will be the Cardinals vs. the Dodgers.

 

Game 161. Yanks, Tanaka beaten, 10-4. Today is Jeter’s finale.

Masahiro Tanaka got knocked out in the second inning and the Yanks were beaten by Boston Saturday, 10-4.

They fell to 83-78 with the loss and into a second-place tie with Toronto heading into the final game of the season.

Of course, today’s game (on TBS) will be Derek Jeter’s final game.

Tanaka gave up a run in the first, then was knocked out in Boston’s 8-run second inning.

Tanaka 1 2/3 IP, (L, 13-5, 2.77), 7 R, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 walks, 2 K.

Claiborne 1/3 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 h, 1 walk, 0 K. 3.00

Mitchell 4 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 0 walks, 3 K. 2.45.

Whitley 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 4 K. 5.23

Derek Jeter went 1 for 2 (career hit #3464) before being pulled from the game. He DH’d, as he wanted his last game at SS to be at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter ends his career in Fenway on 9/28/14. Mickey Mantle ended his career in Fenway on 9/28/68. Exactly 46 years ago.

Game 160. “B Squad” Beats Boston, 3-2.

Using a lineup that looked like something out of one of those spring training games where you recognize no one because they are all minor leaguers wearing numbers in the seventies, the Yanks beat Boston Friday night, 3-2.

No Jeter, McCann, Teix, Beltran, Gardner, Headley, Ellsbury, Ichiro, Prado, etc.

Instead, you had Jose Pirela in his fourth MLB game. Eury Perez. John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine. Zelous Wheeler and Antoan Richardson. Your #3 hitter was Cervelli.

But the Yanks did win, 3-2, to go to 83-77 on the season. With the win, the Yanks stayed one game ahead of Toronto for 2nd place in the AL East with two games to go.

Chris Capuano started and pitched great, although it must be pointed out that Boston’s lineup had some of their main people out as well (Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli).

Capuano (W, 3-4) 6 2/3 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 walks, 5 K. Overall ERA 4.35.
Kelley 1/3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 4.53.
Warren 1 Ip, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 2 K. 3.03.
Robertson (39th save) 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 3.08.

Boston got an unearned run in the second but the Yanks came back with two in the third. A passed ball on a strikeout and another passed ball put Eury Perez on second. Cervelli singled in Perez and after Chris Young singled, Cervelli scored when John Ryan Murphy hit into a force but there was an error on the play.

The Yanks went up 3-1 in the sixth on a Zelous Wheeler SF.

Boston cut it to 3-2 in the seventh when Kelley gave up a HR but that was it.

 

Game 159. Hollywood ending for Jeter’s last home game.

For a whole career that seems like a fairy tale, why not a Hollywood ending for the hero’s last home game?

Derek Jeter hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th to win the game against Baltimore, 6-5. It couldn’t have been any different, right?

Hiroki Kuroda, possibly making his final MLB start, started the game off badly, giving up back-to-back HRs to the first two batters he faced. But then after that, he threw a one-hit shutout for eight innings.

Kuroda, 8 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 walks, 9 K. 3.71.

Meanwhile, the Yanks came back. In the bottom of the first, Gardner singled, and Jeter just missed a HR, doubling in Gardner. Jeter went to third on a WP and scored on an error to tie up the game.

In the seventh, Jeter came up with the bases loaded and hit a ground ball. In going for the force, the ball was thrown away and two runs scored. Error and RBI for Derek. Brian McCann then hit a SF to make it 5-2.

So to the 9th it went, and all seemed safe. Then things went crazy.

David Robertson gave up a walk, then got a strikeout.

Then he gave up a 2-run HR. 5-4.

Then a strikeout. With two out, I expected Girardi to pull Jeter to a standing ovation. Instead, he left Jeter in the game. Good thing, too.

For Robertson then coughed up the lead by giving up another HR. And it was to Steve Pearce (see my recent post, “You were saying?”).

Robertson (W, 4-5, 3.13) 1 IP, 3 R, 2 H, 1 walk, 2 K.

So Jeter now had another Yankee Stadium at bat. More if the game went extras. He was third up in the bottom of the ninth.

Rookie Jose Pirela, in his third major league game, singled to start the bottom of the ninth. Antoan Richardson pinch-ran.

Everyone knew what would happen next. Gardner bunted Richardson over to set the stage for Jeter.

It seemed so scripted. But, why not a Hollywood ending for the hero’s last home game in a fairy-tale career?

Jeter singled in the winning run. Career hit #3463.

The win ensured a winning season. The Yanks are 82-77 with three games in Boston to go. It put them one up on Toronto for 2nd place in the AL East.

Jeter probably won’t play today (Friday). I’ll be shocked if he does, simply because of all the emotion of last night. He will never play SS again, saying that is one thing he wants to take out of his home farewell—his last game at SS. In fairness to the Boston fans who want to say goodbye, he will DH in Boston this weekend.

Is an encore (like a HR over the Green Monster in his final MLB at bat) in the cards?

Game 158. Farewells forthcoming as Yanks are eliminated, 9-5

Cue Sinatra. “… and now, the end is near…”

The Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention with a 9-5 loss on Wednesday afternoon. Tonight’s (Thursday) game vs. Baltimore will be the final home game of Derek Jeter’s career. It also will probably be the final game of Hiroki Kuroda’s career, and probably the final game for Ichiro Suzuki as a Yankee in Yankee Stadium. As for David Robertson, who knows?

(Trivia: the Yanks, despite 27 World Series Championships, have never won a WS in a year ending in a 4 or 5).

Jeter, of course, is retiring at the end of the year and tonight will be the Yankees’ last home game of 2014. Ichiro most likely will not be a Yankee in 2015 and with him turning 41, you wonder who’d pick him up. Kuroda, 39, may be retiring.

One big question is when tonight’s game would start, and if it will start or be rained out. You know the Yanks will do everything in their power to play the game, for it is Jeter’s home farewell. Rain is in the forecast all day, and the question is, when will it be over. There is a chance tonight’s game starts after a delay.

As for yesterday, Shane Greene took a 3-0 lead into the third inning, but the O’s knocked him out of the box in the fourth with six runs on their way to defeating the Yanks 9-5.

The Yanks had scored a run in the first on a Teixeira double, another in the second on a Drew HR (overall 7), and one in the third on a Headley HR (overall 13).

Greene (L, 5-4, 3.78) went 3 2/3, 6 R, 7 H, 3 walks and 5 K.

Huff 2 IP, 0 R, 2 h, 0 walks and 1 K. Overall ERA 3.36 (1.85 as NYY).

Whitley 1 1/3, 2 R, 3 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 5.38.

Phelps 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 walk, 0 K. 4.42.

Claiborne 1 IP,  0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 3.05.

The O’s got 3 in the eighth to make it 9-3, and Mark Teixeira hit a 2-run HR (22, 363 career) in the bottom of the 8th to bring the Yanks to 9-5, the final score.

Tonight should be dramatic. The ovation(s) for Jeter should be huge. You wonder if and how Jeter will show his emotions.

It will be less so for Kuroda and Ichiro, but it could be their home Yankee farewells as well.

And what about David Robertson, who is a free agent after the year? Is this is last home game as a Yankee as well?

Derek Jeter went 0 for 4 in the loss, keeping his total hit total at 3461. His average dropped to .253. (.309 career)

The loss dropped the Yanks to 81-77 and into a second-place tie with the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.

Game 157. Yanks fall, 5- 4. On brink of elimination.

Brandon McCarthy gave up three HR and the Yanks couldn’t climb out of an early 4-0 hole as they lost to the Orioles 5-4 Tuesday night.

The loss puts the Yanks “tragic number” of missing the playoffs at one. They are 81-76, one game ahead of Toronto for second in the AL East. With five games left, the best the Yanks can do is 86-76, and both KC and Oakland have 86 wins now. Any Yanks loss will eliminate them from the playoffs, and they would have to hope either KC or Oakland loses all their games from here on out. An impossible task. (Not to mention Seattle has 83 wins right now and that the Indians have 82). The Yanks are five out of the last wild card with five games to go.

McCarthy (L, 10-15, 4.05 overall, 7-5, 2.89 as NYY) went 5 1/3, giving up 5 R, 11 H, 0 walks and 8 K. He gave up two in the second, two in the fourth and one in the fifth.

Rich Hill 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 3.38.

Esmiel Rogers 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 4.96

Dellin Betances 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 1.40.

David Robertson  1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 2.74.

The Yanks got one in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout by Chris Young to cut the Orioles’ lead to 4-1.

Stephen Drew got a bases-loaded SF in the sixth to cut the Orioles’ lead to 5-2.

Brian McCann hit a 2-run HR (23) in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-4 but the Yanks couldn’t catch up.

Derek Jeter went 1 for 5, career hit #3461 but struck out to end the game. He is at .255.