Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The hunters have become the hunted.
It took just three games for the Yankees to get pushed back on their collective heels by the red-hot Blue Jays. Fresh off trade deadline acquisitions of former Cy Young winner David Price and former All Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays now look like the favorites to win the AL East.
Poor managerial decisions from Joe Girardi and three stellar pitching performances, along with timely home runs gave Toronto a three-game sweep in the Bronx to cut New York’s once seven-game lead down to 1 ½ games.
The two teams meet 10 more times over the season’s final 50-plus games. The Yankees are in the drivers seat with a weak remaining schedule outside of the games against Toronto, but the once sturdy foundation surrounding The House That George Built is beginning to show some cracks.
The Yankees’ offense managed just one run over 28 innings, and was shutout on back-to-back days for the first time since May 1999. If you take this a step further, since the 13-run outburst against Boston on August 3, the explosive Yankee offense has scored just four runs over the last 46 innings.
Good teams have bad weeks, so there’s no reason to panic just yet. There are, however, some concerning signs bubbling to the surface. Since coming off the DL last month, leadoff hitter and $142 million man Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting just .191 (21-for-110). Ellsbury has managed just three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBIs with a putrid .579 OPS in that span.
The Yankees, of course, have downplayed the bad stretch, but more than 100 at-bats is more than just your run of the mill slump. Ellsbury did have the go-ahead home run in Thursday’s 2-1 win over Boston, so he hasn’t been without some success during this stretch.
Entering the season, conventional wisdom pointed to Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as the two guys who would have to jumpstart the offense by getting on base and stealing some bases, but that hasn’t been the case. The resurgence of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann in the middle of the lineup has covered up the fact that the two speedy outfielders have stopped running altogether.
Gardner has stolen 15 bags on 18 attempts, which looks nice on paper, but he hasn’t attempted a stolen base since a June 12 game at Baltimore. Ellsbury has stolen 14 bases on 20 attempts, but has attempted just one steal – which was unsuccessful – in 27 games since coming off the disabled list July 8. Those numbers should worry every Yankee fan, as the offense has once again become too reliant on the long ball.
Sure, it’s exciting to sit around and wait for the three-run homer, but we've seen that style of play doesn't work in the postseason.
This team has 52 games left in the regular season to figure out how to put more pressure on its opposing defenses or this year’s playoff run will be a short one.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The New York Yankees are in a fight for a division title, but if they continue to make the wrong decisions, the Toronto Blue Jays will fly right past them.

Friday night’s loss 2-1 loss was a result of failure at the plate in key spots and manager Joe Girardi once again trying to be too smart.

With the game tied at 1 in the top of the ninth inning, All Star closer Andrew Miller retired the Blue Jays on just six pitches, but instead of sending him out for the 10th inning, Girardi brought in Branden Pinder, a 26-year-old right-hander who threw twice as many innings in the minors (31.2) than with the Yankees (15.2) this season.

Really, Joe? 

"You look at the success that part of the order has had against left-handers, I felt I had to go to the right-hander there," Girardi told the assembled NY media.

This is exactly the problem with Girardi at times. He lets the numbers in his precious binder dictate what should be a simple decision. Miller had thrown just six pitches, and he’s an All Star for a reason.

If you don’t trust him to get through the meat of the order in this situation, then how can you trust him for high leverage innings in October?

Miller is the best reliever in New York’s excellent bullpen for a reason. Pinder has had a nice season, but he had no business facing Jose Bautista in the top of the 10th inning. The result was predictable – a home run clear over the left field fence.

Girardi’s logic makes some sense that Dellin Betances had just thrown for the third time in four days, and he didn’t want to burn out his bullpen on Friday night.

The problem with this strategy is Toronto has David Price going this afternoon, so the Yankee bullpen might not even have a chance to close out a victory.

But, it’s not like Price has dominated the Yankees throughout his career. The power lefty has a career 4.41 ERA with a 10-7 record against New York. In his lone outing this year against the Yankees -- when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers -- Price allowed eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, back in April at Comerica Park.

Nobody knows if the Yankees would have won the game, and maybe Miller doesn’t do any better than Pinder, but what is the point of having a lock down closer if you don’t use him in that situation?
New York blew a game that saw Nathan Eovaldi give an excellent performance, allowing just one run over 6 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately, the Yankees’ bats were non-existent outside of a Mark Teixeira solo home run in the second inning, thanks to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

A Yankee win would have increased their lead to 5 ½ games, but now it’s just 3 ½ with Price on the mound against Ivan Nova. Toronto has been on fire since trading for Troy Tulowitzki and Price at the deadline, and Girardi gifted them a highly important game. There is simply no excuse.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Well that was fast.

Just two games into his tenure in the Bronx, the Yankees announced on Tuesday that utility man Dustin Ackley has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with that the team is calling a right lumbar strain.

Ackley was acquired by the Yankees from the Seattle Mariners just before the trading deadline last week, as the club's biggest deadline move while the team, for the most part, stood pat.

The 27-year-old was expected to help the Yankees at second base as well as the corner outfield, where he'd be able to spell the aging Carlos Beltran occasionally down the stretch.

For now, however, the club will have to wait for his chance to make an impact.