Category Archives: Scandal

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 119. Yanks lose 4th straight, 5-3.

This was a killer. The Yanks’ offense didn’t do much, but they still had a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the 8th down in Baltimore. Dellin Betances was on the mound, and he’s been great all year.

But it was Betances’ third inning of work, a move that may have deeper complications, such as lost confidence in Warren or Whitley, both of whom have been struggling mightily lately, overwork of some members of the bullpen (especially because, with the lack of offense, there have been so many close games) or desperation.

Betances gave up a game-tying HR, then Shawn Kelley blew the game by giving up a 3-run HR in the same inning as the Yanks lost 5-3.

Forget the division. The loss puts the Yanks 8 behind Baltimore with 43 games to go. Only a drastic change and torrid hot streak by the Yanks and collapse by Baltimore will enable the Yanks to catch the Orioles. It looks like Baltimore will be the AL East champs. Getting tougher for the Yankees is trying to gain that second wild-card spot. At 61-58, the Yanks are 3 1/2 behind co-leaders Detroit and Seattle for that final playoff spot. Toronto is just ahead of the Yanks, 3 back. So the Yanks need to get hot and do some leap-frogging.

Francisco Cervelli gave the Yanks a 2-0 lead with his 2nd HR of the season in the third inning.

Michael Pineda, making his first appearance in almost four months after the pine-tar incident and injury, pitched very well, giving up just one run in the fifth inning. 5 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 4 K. In his five starts this year, his ERA is 1.82, but his record remains at 2-2, a sign of the Yanks’ lack of support. It also shows Pineda’s talent if he is ever healthy and his head is screwed on straight (no pine-tar stupidity).L

In the bottom of the 8th, Jonathan Schoop proved to be a Yankee-killer again. His 11th HR of the season tied the game. It’s his 4th against the Yankees this year, one against Betances, and two against Tanaka. Go figure.

The Yanks got a run in the top of the 9th on an RBI groundout and got the tying run to the plate, but to no avail.

Betances 2 1/3, 1 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 4 K. 1.52.

Later in that same inning Shawn Kelley gave up a three-run HR to Adam Jones. That was the game.

Kelley (L, 2-4, 4.74) 2/3 IP, 3 R, 2 H, 1 walk, 0 K.

To make room for Pineda, the Yanks let Chris LeRoux go. You could see that coming when LeRoux was brought up a couple of days ago and Bryan Mitchell was sent down.

Brian McCann should be back on Saturday. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch Sunday.

The Yanks are off today (Thursday).

Earlier in the day, Hal Steinbrenner commented on the disappointing offense (after all, he shelled out big bucks to bring in Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran) and refused to comment on GM Brian Cashman, who is a free agent after the season. Personally, I don’t blame Cashman. He brought in players with track records. Although Ellsbury has done OK (and truthfully, he shouldn’t be batting third, but…) McCann and Beltran have been disappointing and others who are gone didn’t play to former potential (Soriano, Roberts). Hal also said he expects A-Rod to rejoin the Yanks in 2015. That is something I’m not looking forward to. Alex’ talents have gone down in the last few years, he will be 40 in July 2015 and after a year off, who knows what he’ll have left. Not to mention the circus and baggage there will be…

Game 84. Yanks carry Tanaka to 7-4 win.

This year, Masahiro Tanaka has carried the Yankees. In his last start, he lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Boston.

It was time for the Yankees’ offense to return the favor.

Last night was the first night Tanaka didn’t get a “quality start”, after 16 consecutive quality starts to begin his MLB career.

Tanaka had his worst start as a Yankee, going 7 innings, giving up 4 R on 9 H, 0 walks and just 3 K. He improved his record to 12-3, and his ERA went up to 2.27.

Down 2-0 in the fifth, Carlos Beltran hit a 3-run HR (9) to give the Yanks the lead. It was the 367th HR of Beltran’s career. After an out, Zelous Wheeler, just called up from SWB, hit a HR in his second MLB at bat to put the Yanks up 4-2.

Tanaka gave up a run in the sixth before the Yanks gave him a cushion by scoring three times in the seventh. Ichiro walked, Wheeler singled, and Brendan Ryan doubled home a run. Brett Gardner singled in a run and Derek Jeter hit into an RBI force out to make it 7-3. Tanaka gave up a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 7-4.

Dellin Betances pitched the 8th. 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 1.47.

David Robertson picked up his 19th save by pitching the 9th. 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 3 K. 2.83.

The win put the Yanks back at .500, 42-42, 3 1/2 back of Toronto in the AL East.

Earlier in the day, disconcerting news on CC Sabathia. After his rehab outing on Wednesday, CC woke up with swelling and fluid in his knee Thursday. A setback.

In order to bring Wheeler up, Yangervis Solarte was sent down. Dean Anna was DFA’d. Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves was suspended 50 games for marijuana usage.

Game 83. Yanks fall below .500 with 6-3 loss.

Not the way to end a homestand, losing five in a row.

Maybe the road will do them some good.

The Yanks lost to the Rays today 6-3. Tampa sweeps the three game set at the Stadium.

Vidal Nuno was, well, Vidal Nuno. He drops to 2-5, 5.42 after going 5 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 8 H, 2 walks and 5 K. He faced one batter in the sixth after giving up 3 R, 2 earned.

Shawn Kelley, struggling since coming off the DL, let that inherited runner score, and another, by giving up a HR. 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 4.63.

The game got off on a good foot, when Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the first with a HR (8). He tied his career high with that HR.

The Rays got a run in the third to tie it up, but Brian McCann Hit a HR in the bottom of the third (10) to put the Yanks up 2-1.

Tampa Bay tied it in the top of the fourth off of Nuno, then the Yanks went up 3-2 in the bottom half of the inning on a Gardner single. Gardner had 3 hits and 2 rbi in the game. He also threw a runner out at the plate.

But then Nuno gave up a run in the fifth and Kelley the 2-run HR in the sixth. Tampa Bay tacked on another run in the ninth.

Warren 1 1/3, 0 R, 2 H, 1 walk, 1 K. 2.82.

Huff 1 2/3, 1 R, unearned, 0 hits, 2 walks and 1 K. 4.73.

The Yanks were 1 for 9 with RISP.

The loss drops the Yanks under .500 to 41-42 and 4 1/2 behind Toronto in the AL East. They are still in 3rd, but 3 back of the 2nd place Orioles. They are five out of the last wild card spot.

Some A-Rod news coming from SI. Apparently he was approved by MLB to take some testosterone and some other strong PEDs in various years, including his MVP year of 2007. Rumors are he’s been using PEDs since his junior year in high school.

The Yanks are going big in the international market. Apparently five of the top 10 young international stars will be signing contracts with the Yanks and as many as 11 of the top 18. Now if just half pan out…

Game 33. Jeter HRs in Yanks 9-2 win.

Barring a playoff matchup, Derek Jeter played his last game in Anaheim last night and he made it one to remember, hitting his first HR of the year (257th lifetime, hit #3343) as the Yankees won 9-2. Jeter had another hit in the game and is currently at 3344.

Jeter was presented with a paddleboard before the game. He got a huge ovation from the fans after the HR and before his final at bat. You’d have thought you were in the Bronx.

Vidal Nuno (W, 1-0, 5.47) started and went 6 1/3, 1 R, 4 H, 1 walk and 3 K. He was staked to a five-run lead before he even took the mound.

Mark Teixeira had a two-run double in the top of the first, Yangervis Solarte a SF, and Brett Gardner and Brian Roberts had RBI singles. The Yanks were aided by two Angels’ walks, 2 errors and a WP.

Jeter made it 6-0 with his solo HR in the second. The Angels got one back in the bottom of the second.

In the eighth, John Ryan Murphy singled in two. Jeter grounded into a force in his last time up. Carlos Beltran flied out.

The Angels got a run off Betances in the bottom of the eighth.

Betances went 1 2/3, 1 R, 2 H, 2 walks and 2 K (2.08), and Preston Claiborne (1.00) pitched a scoreless ninth.

Ellsbury (.317), Jeter, Solarte (.306), Gardner and Murphy (.348) had 2 hits apiece.

Teixeira and Murphy each had 2 rbi.

The Yanks are off today. Friday night’s game in Milwaukee is a My9 game, Tanaka on the hill.

Tanaka will also need to bat. The Yanks lose the DH.

I’d be surprised if Tanaka does much with the bat. In his Japanese career, he was 3 for 37.

In case you missed it, Michael Pineda’s suspension ended May 6th, now it’s the DL he is on. As a result the Yanks are back to a 25-man team, and brought up Brendan Ryan off minor-league rehab and off the DL.

Game 23. Angels k-o Kuroda, 13-1.

With Nova out for the year (TJ surgery Tues.) and Pineda suspended, the Yanks have to have CC and Kuroda be solid and Nuno and Phelps step up while Pineda is out. Pineda can return May 5th.

Kuroda didn’t do his part last night, giving up 8 R, 6 ER in 4 2/3 as the Yanks got hammered 13-1. Kuroda falls to 2-2, 5.28. Bruce Billings made his Yankees debut and gave up 4 in 4 IP, even though he K’d 7.

Meanwhile, the Yanks’ offense continued its inconsistency. They were stymied by Lackey on Wednesday, got 14 Thursday but got just one run on six hits against C.J. Wilson and the Angels’ bullpen last night.  Jeter got career hit 3336.

The Yanks are still in first place by 1 1/2 games with a record of 13-10. An interesting tidbit—every AL East team has given up more runs than it has scored (of course, Yanks’ losses of 16-1 and 13-1 in the last week haven’t helped their run differential).

With Pineda out, the Yanks set up their rotation, and gave Tanaka, Kuroda and Nuno each an extra day off.

Kuroda went last night, Nuno goes today. Tanaka on Sunday. Monday is an off-day. CC Tues., Phelps Wed., Kuroda Thurs. vs. Seattle (and Cano’s return to the Stadium). Next weekend will see Nuno, Tanaka and CC against the Rays. Pineda should return (and hopefully will have learned his lesson) at Anaheim on May 5th.

Game 22. Yanks improve to 13-9 w/14-5 rout of Boston.

Boston was sloppy tonight (5 errors) and the Yanks took advantage, beating them 14-5. The Yanks have won 5 of 7 from Boston so far this season.

CC improved to 3-2. 6 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 3 w and 8 K. Shane Greene made his MLB debut and struggled (nerves?) 1/3 IP, 3 R (all unearned b/c of a Jeter error and a McCann PB). No hits, but 3 walks and the Jeter E.  Adam Warren 1 2/3 scoreless and David Robertson finished up. Nice to get D-Rob in a game out of hand after spending two weeks on the DL. Get his feet wet again.

ERA’s CC 3-2, 4.78. Greene 0.00 (3 unearned runs). Warren 2.19 and D-Rob 0.00.

The Yanks had 14 h, 12 walks in the game and Boston made 5 errors.

Ellsbury 3 h, 3 rbi. Jeter 2 h (3335), 2 rbi. Solarte 4 rbi. Teixiera HR #1

It’s funny how the Yanks top RBI guys batted 1st (Ellsbury) and 9th (Solarte) tonight.

Pineda got a 10-game suspension.