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Game 54: Did you expect anything else?

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We finally had some nice weather in the New York area this weekend, and I hope you found something better to do than watch the Yankees sleepwalk through another loss. Today, they fell to the Rays 3-1 and have now lost four straight. The Yankees are 29-25 one-third of the way through the season, which is an 87-win pace. It’s not what you want. Here are the takeaways:

When is it OK to talk about the coaching staff’s job security? Yes, there have been some disappointing performances offensively and a handful of injuries this season. But the constant sloppy defensive play, poor baserunning, and dreadful at-bats does reflect on Aaron Boone and his staff. We’ve now seen this for a few years running with him at the helm, by the way. And all the while: the placating quotes keep on coming:

That’s how he feels after the offense has now scored two or fewer runs in 9 of 12 games? The at-bats were better? Come on. This recent offensive performance has been pathetic, to say the least.

The Yankees are 62-52 since last year, which is an 88-win pace of 162. While that’s not horrible, it’s also far off from 100-win aspirations. At some point, the manager has to take some heat for the roster’s underperformance. Not everything is his fault, but when you grab someone out of the broadcast booth who hasn’t been in a clubhouse for about a decade, there’s a pretty decent chance that he’s just not made for the job.

Lineup changes need to happen. I don’t know how the front office or coaching staff can expect much different from the current group right now. It’s one thing to preach patience in April and even early May, but we’re now a third of the way through the season with a lineup that’s completely fallen flat. Yeah, it hasn’t been at full strength, but that doesn’t explain away everything.

I’m OK dreaming on DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres turning things around, as frustrating as they’ve been. But it’s another to keep running Rougned Odor, Brett Gardner, and Kyle Higashioka out there on a daily or near-daily basis. Clint Frazier has been awful. Mike Ford doesn’t belong. There are just too many players on this roster that play far too much, paired with a lack of urgency to make a move.

Boone spoke about Chris Gittens being on the team’s radar. He’s not going to be the panacea — there’s a good chance he’s another Ford-esque Quad-A slugger — but what else do the Yankees have to lose? He can relegate Odor and Ford to the bench, which seems like a plus to me. What, exactly, is holding up a Gittens promotion?

All that said, the Yankees will need outside solutions to patch up this lineup. Getting LeMahieu and Torres going could go a long way, but there are still a bunch of black holes at the bottom of this lineup.

It would be awfully nice to see a sense of urgency from the front office. The Yankees have three more against the Rays before three against Boston this weekend, both of which are pivotal series. The Yankees can’t lose the division in early June, but without an offensive jump start ASAP, they could be climbing out of a pretty big hole come the end of the week. They’re already 5.5 games out of first place as it stands.

I’m doubting Jameson Taillon’s upside. Today’s starter pitched well in the early going, retiring the first six of seven batters faced. But as usual, once Taillon had to turn over Tampa’s lineup for a second time, he struggled. The Rays plated one run in each of the righty’s final three innings.

Taillon now has a 5.10 ERA and 4.60 FIP through ten starts. I can’t help but wonder if this just might be what he maxes out at. He’s made a significant overhaul to his throwing motion and has a drastically different approach on the mound than he did while in Pittsburgh, but neither adjustment has worked particularly well thus far.

Taillon doesn’t throw as hard as he once did. Whether that’s because of the two Tommy John surgeries or a new throwing motion doesn’t matter. Today, he averaged 94.1 MPH with his fastball, which isn’t bad in a vacuum but also just doesn’t seem to work all that well for him upstairs. Plus, he’s having a tough time elevating the pitch anyway.

Rays hitters put seven of his four-seamers in play this afternoon and averaged a 100.4 exit velocity against the pitch. Ugh. So perhaps it’s no wonder that Taillon mixed in some sinkers today, akin to his old habits with the Pirates. I wouldn’t say he’s waving the white flag on the high heat just yet, but it sure seems like there’s some small degree of backtracking.

At some point soon, Taillon needs to find something to help him fare better against opposing lineups for a second and third time. Maybe some more sinkers will help, but I’m not holding my breath. If all else fails, I could see him replicating what Chad Green does in short spurts, at least. But the Yanks really need Taillon to work out in the rotation.

Leftovers

  • Miguel Andújar drove in the Yankees’ only run of the day. He hit a solo homer in the seventh against Michael Wacha. Miggy also had a single today.
  • Lucas Luetge, Wandy Peralta, and Luis Cessa tossed four shutout innings in relief and faced just one batter above the minimum. Nice work.
  • Giancarlo Stanton is now 0-for-12 with 8 strikeouts since returning from the injured list. Oof. The Yankees badly need him to get back to his early-season form.
  • Gleyber Torres made another error today and went 0-for-4. His fall from grace continues, sadly.
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25 Comments

  1. KB

    DJLM is being pitched inside and slightly up a lot negating his inside out swing. It seems he is in two minds — when he goes to right field its mostly an inside pitch resulting in a slow grounder and when he pulls the ball its a slower outside pitch which more often results in a slow grounder.

    Basically he is not getting any hits on inside fastballs (which is half of what he sees) and hitting .500 on the rest which leads to a .250-.260 batting average.

    I do wonder if 2017-2018-2019 was the era of cheating for pitches (type or location or both) for most clubs. Some have adjusted well (like Cora being a better tactical manager) while others are mostly clueless like Boone and Yanks!

  2. DZB

    The shocking thing about this team is their lack of offence. I realize there are injuries, but they still have a lineup that should be able to score more. I agree that players matter more than coaches, but I have to start to wonder if they need a new hitting coach – perhaps someone in the Matt Blake mould of a data/tech driven approach.

    I lay a lot of blame for the lack of success at the feet of the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold. They had opportunities to make real improvements, like going after Lindor, Lynn, and Darvish (perhaps Darvish in particular). Yes, they have splashed out for Cole, so they are not being driven by costs to the extent of a team like KC, but they should very much be following the Dodgers approach.

    As for Taillon, I had been pushing for him to spend time at AAA to work out his issues given he has an option and there is no reason to hold onto it for later (especially given his service time). But that was before Kluber was injured and Deivi was unable to really look competitive at the MLB level. I still think it would be better for him to work out some issues in the minors before a return, but without a starter ready to take his spot, I suppose he has to remain on the ML roster.

    • The directive to stay under the luxury tax is 10000000% to blame. Never forget they decided to sign JA Happ for 3 years through his age 37 season instead of Patrick Corbin 7 years through his age 36 season. That decision did it for me. Harper, Machado, Lindor, the list goes on. I’m not advocating the team signs and trades for every available star but this organization’s greatest advantage is their financial clout and they rarely, if ever, use it.

      Regarding Taillon, I’ve said it before but c’mon man, the dude should be able to give up 3 runs and still get a win against any pitcher not named DeGrom. For all this team’s faults the pitching staff is NOT one of them.

      • Steve

        Patrick Corbin probably isn’t the best example to use. That’s looking like a dodged bullet.

      • Dan A

        The thing that kills me with the luxury tax–it’s not about the big contracts the Yanks haven’t given out–the more maddening thing is passing on cheapish guys who would fit clear needs because they’d put us over the luxury tax.

        We need a lefty who doesn’t K much and has some pop. This offseason, there were two such guys available: Brantley and Didi (who I acknowledge is having a bad year). We didn’t make a run at either.

        This has also been the issue with SP since 2017 (when acquiring Verlander in August probably puts us over the top).

    • Pay Lindor $30M+ a year when he’s hitting .198? That sure sounds like a perfect solution.

      More analytics for batters when they can’t hit a fastball to save themselves?

      Yogi Berra said it best, ‘you can’t hit and think at the same time’, it’s really that simple-see the ball, hit the ball.

      Boone’s bs about ‘pouring through data and making adjustments is such a bunch of crap it’s beyond belief. If you can’t hit a fastball and then flail away at breaking balls down and away and a foot outside the strike zone once you get behind you have no chance.

  3. dasit

    they’re not selling, they’re not firing boone, and cashman has very little (money/prospects) he can use to improve the team. there’s nothing to do but sit back and hope for legit contributions from voit, stanton, and severino

  4. Cary

    Huge decisions looming for Cashman. He basically has two choices. Completely deplete the farm system or recognize, finally, that he has built a losing team which is way too right-handed hitter & HR or bust dependant.

    Personally I would go with internal options and I would start flushing anybody who was underperforming. The list of toilet bowl bound ball players would be Odor, Frazier, Ford, Sanchez, Gardy. Trade them, demote them, release them, DFA them. Whatever makes sense and who cares.

    The Yankees also need an actual manager. Boone belongs behind a microphone, not managing an actual baseball team.

    For now, bring up some players who deserve a cup of coffee. Gittens & Milone would be a start. Rapidly promote some pitching prospects to the higher levels of the system. With a new manager and perhaps a trade (providing the team is not overpaying) at least a message would be sent and all these players who are struggling would either be gone or fixing themselves before we ever have to watch them again.

    Allen & Brito would be waiting in the wings if Milone who needs too much cream or sugar.

  5. The Original Drew

    I was at the game today, my first since the pandemic happened. I have to say, it was awesome to be back at the ballpark and experiencing live baseball again. Life felt normal, and I am really digging the limited crowds. I was able to sit at Stans and have a beer with my brother without some drunk college bro bumping into me 17 times drying to down a yager bomb. I was able to get up and go to the bathroom in between innings and not miss a single pitch, same with getting a hotdog and a beer. It was fantastic. I now know why people go to baseball games in Pittsburgh or any other bad team. It’s such an amazing experience to have a stadium to basically yourself. Keep playing like dog sh** Yankees, and this will be the norm atmosphere at the ballpark. Fingers crossed.

    What was also awesome is that the Yankees bats were dead the entire game so that I was able to get home before my family 4:30 Memorial Day BBQ started. It was a win all around today.

    I am not expecting the front office to make any sort of meaningful moves. They have little to no wiggle room under the LT to pick up an actual impact player at all the positions that they need. It’s what happens when ownership takes away your competitive advantage in the name of “financial austerity”. The window on this core of players is slamming shut. Sucks.

  6. I flipped on the game for about 1 inning, saw Andujar’s home run, watched Gardner take 2 fastballs down the middle before fouling off a couple and then striking out, and knew there was no chance of a comeback win.

    This team is a rare combination of overhyped, boring, and simply BAD. It’s clearly driven by the analytical geeks who were likely picked last in any schoolyard baseball game, played right field, batted 9th, and wouldn’t know a real baseball play from a frappuccino.

    It’s time for Boone to either go Lou Pinella-like crazy in the clubhouse (highly unlikely) or pack his bags, the only thing that has a chance to save this season is an old school manager like Buck Showalter who can light a fire under the players.

    • Esteddardban Florial

      I’d hand the keys to Buck in a heartbeat, both GM and manager. It was George, Stick Michael and Buck that built the the late 90’s dynasty. The first two are dead but Buck lives. This would give Buck one last hurrah and allow him to come full circle in his career and give us a winning manager who can keep this team in line and hold them accountable. Boone couldn’t motivate a college kid to get laid. I just don’t know what his purpose is here. He’s not a brilliant tactician, he doesn’t get more out of less like Girardi did. He was supposedly good with the media but he just lies and repeats the same old cliches.

    • Cary

      Great post & I fully agree.

  7. Madrugador

    I’m not sure where these upgrades are coming from. It’s not as if the organization has much to trade from. Odor does need to go and Gittens needs to get a chance. I’m afraid Higashioka, Frazier and Gardener are here to stay though. I hope the Yankees draft well.

  8. Esteddardban Florial

    I thought it was the worst loss of the season, Derek, and there have been a lot of bad losses this year. And no, I don’t expect anything else from this ballclub except one run scored on one solo home run. That’s the top of this club’s potential. Rays will sweep. Sox will sweep. And then hopefully the entire management, coaching, training and medical staffs are fired and the garage sale begins. Polyannas keep saying the cliche well they’ll eventually hit because they always have on their baseball cards. No they won’t and no they haven’t. Sanchez had hit .180 or worse three straight seasons. This is who they are. A bunch of .160 hitters who strike out 3 times a game and hit into double plays the fourth. I’d see what we can fetch for Chapman, Torres, Green, anybody except Judge really. I might hold on to Gio because he’s young and cheap and at least hitting over .200. Gleyber is not a SS. Another error and no hits today. He’s gotta go. We shoulda traded Voit in the offseason. I’d trade anybody in the pen except Loisaga. See what clubs will offer for Cole. We won’t need an ace like him any time soon anyway so might as well flip him like the Rays did Snell. The Rays are always one step ahead of us. And Glasnow tomorrow might strike out 30 in 7 innings and throw a perfect game. Fire everybody, trade everybody and start from scratch. That’s about all we can hope for now.

  9. MikeD

    Buck Showalter.

    Enough of this kumbaya sh*t. Put an adult in charge.

  10. Frankie Ho-Tep

    When is it okay to talk about the coaching staff’s job security??? Lol dude, why in the hell will Marcus Thames still be employed by this team tomorrow? Name me a lineup, or ANY part of ANY team that has underperformed more than the Yankees lineup relative to expectations. The Twins’ lineup? Maybe? What we’re witnessing is nothing short of an offensive collapse.

    We’re talking about a top three offense the last three seasons, and with the exception of Judge & Stanton, ALL OF THEM are struggling with the same symptoms. They’re beating the ball into the ground, so of course power has disappeared, and they’re consistently beat by fastballs in the zone and don’t do much damage in general on pitches in the zone.

    DJLM, Gio, & Torres…strikeouts up, ground balls up, exit velocity down. I didn’t include Sanchez because it’s lunacy to expect anything from him or Higgy other than the very occasional home run. Frazier simply doesn’t belong and should be in the minors if the Yankees didn’t lose Hicks or maybe had an ounce of depth. Those three are the ones who need to join Judge, Stanton & hopefully Voit to make this lineup go.

    • Ramez

      The pitching is great,we need dj to start playing like abatting champion,we need voit back,tores apprach is way wrong ,he has to start hitting homers,keep andjhuare,trade for center field and left field

  11. Cary

    The Yankees may want to consider becoming sellers at the trade deadline. Seems like the team is fading fast and it’s surprising to even be thinking this but rather than trading away pieces from an already depleted farm system it may be time to restock and reset with an eye towards becoming contenders a couple of years down the road.

    This might be the last thing that anybody wants to consider but obviously the Yankees are as good as their record says they are. Making the playoffs & competing against the better built, more balanced teams seems unrealistic for this group.

    The Yankees have a number of players who might be appealing to contenders. Chapman’s value is very high right now. Tallion or German might be back of the rotation arms for a contender in need of pitching.

    Stanton has a full no-trade but would he go to San Diego or Los Angeles, providing there was some type of interest? Sanchez’s value is probably as high as it’s ever going to get at this point and let’s face it, he’s not a part of the future plans, is he?

    Gleyber’s value has probably plummeted. But there are a number of Yankees that could be of some interest to the better teams in the league.

  12. Kansas

    But instead of running 5 guys out there batting 170, we ran out 3 guys batting 190, so…….things are better

  13. Brent Lawson

    Yankees are hard to watch and Kay talking them up sounds so hollow and you wonder what team he is talking about.

  14. Mungo

    This edition of the team is very difficult to like.

    • Wire Fan

      It’s not just the coaching that needs to be questioned. Boone was put in as a puppet for the analytics group/front office. He seems mostly there for the soft skills (managing the players / media / clubhouse)

      The position player roster construction is a hot mess and that is completely on Cashman. The Yankees are basically missing two pieces – Voit and Hicks, yet there are a number of non MLB quality players on the roster. And since Hicks has a long history of getting hurt (just one season where he has 400+ PAs), having Gardner as the only other real CF option on the 40man seems like bad planning.

      And while the pitching has been fantastic as a whole, Cashman’s new additions have been pretty disappointing. O’day – hurt, Kluber – hurt, wilson – disappointment, Taillon – disappointment, Peralta – TBD, he’s mostly been OK-ish

      • Wire Fan

        Whoops. Not meant as a reply.

        • Cary

          Luetge flashed ridiculous breaking balls today & the fastball, which he barely throws, sets it all up. He made Arozerina look horrendous. That’s my only takeaway from today.

      • Terry from LA

        Wilson is hurt too!

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