Category: Musings Page 1 of 28

The Series Where Everything Goes Wrong

This weekend’s series sweet at the hands the Cardinals had a little bit of everything, didn’t it?

A blown save by the AL’s formerly most dominant reliever.

A shutout mainly at the hands of someone just traded away for at least slightly illogical reasons.

A back-and-forth loss in which multiple leads were blown by the newly acquired, big-ticket starting pitcher, not to mention the other new acquisition whose homer allowed put the game out of reach.

Oh, and Anthony Rizzo is out with a bad back and Gleyber Torres has been a ghost for the last week or so (today notwithstanding). Did I mention Andrew Benintendi is 4-30 since joining the Yankees?

Starting to feel like Joe Pesci:

To put it mildly, the vibes are very, very off.

I wrote or tweeted many times that the Yankees building up a big lead in the division was a good thing so it wasn’t likely that they’d have to fight for a division or playoff spot in September and October. They’re not going to have to, but their lead over the Astros for home field advantage has evaporated. The pitching has regressed considerably. The lineup looks weak half the time and suffers when DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge don’t constantly produce; luckily, they’ve been almost constantly producing. We’ve seen this team go from its best case scenario to its worst over the last month or so and it is exceedingly frustrating.

Going into this year, there were a lot of questions and those questions were answered in a positive direction and expectations were blown away at the beginning of the year. But as is almost always the case with baseball, those answers weren’t written in stone and they’ve started to turn. For now, this 2022 season is starting to feel very 2021.

There’s time to turn things back around, of course. There’s over a month of baseball left. While things may not always be good as they were April through June, they’re not likely to be this bad for the rest of August and September.

Quick Thoughts Before the Trade Deadline

Happy Sunday. Including today, we’re three days out from the trade deadline–August 2 at 6 PM eastern. While the Yankees have already traded for Andrew Benintendi–whom I identified as a target way back–it’s worth noting that August 2 is my seventh wedding anniversary, so it’d be nice of the Yankees to get my wife and me a present, like a starting pitcher and/or a reliever or two. And the best part is that you all would benefit, too. Not really sure why they can’t do this! Anyway…

Starting with the Benintendi trade, I’ll say what I said on Twitter. It’s a good trade (with a caveat). He’s better than Joey Gallo and that’s really what the bar was for acquiring an outfielder. With a high-contact approach, Benintendi continues the Yankees’ attempt at lineup diversification. Again, good thing. The Yankees have a lot of on-base and power types who could be on in front of Benintendi to take advantage of his contact skills. However, as Mike Axisa noted in the RAB Patreon right after the trade, we’re a BABIP regression away from having an outfield version of Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the lineup. For now, though, it’s a lineup upgrade that the Yankees could surely use.

The cost of the trade also helps make this a good deal. While it always hurts to give up three prospects at once (Beck Way, T.J. Sikkema, and Chandler Champlain in this case), these ones aren’t likely to be players the Yankees will miss in a few years, especially if this season ends the way we all want it to end.

One big addendum to this trade is that, as of now, Benintendi has not gotten his Covid vaccination. You’ll remember that he and nine other Royals were not allowed into Canada for the team’s series against the Blue Jays a few weeks back. He’s implied that he’s “open” to getting the vaccine, whatever that means, and he does have time. The Yankees’ series in Toronto isn’t until the end of the year, so by my count (14 days out), he’ll have to be fully vaccinated by September 11 to be eligible to play there for the regular season and any potential playoff series. It’s worth noting that the Jays themselves were apparently in on Benintendi, too, so maybe he really is open to getting his shot(s) , as he should be. If he happens not to get it, it’d be damn near impossible to not downgrade the trade’s evaluation. The whole point is to get better for the stretch run and the playoffs, and if he can’t play in one of or both of those, well…Hopefully it becomes a moot point.

With Benintendi, the Yankees are a better team than they were without him. However, they still need to make some tweaks to the roster going forward. With Luis Severino out, it’s imperative for the Yankees to get a starter to bolster the rotation. Number one target Luis Castillo is gone to the Mariners for a package of prospects that, apparently, the Yankees couldn’t or wouldn’t match. I’ve seen people suggest it may’ve been a slight overpay for the M’s but who can blame them? Their last playoff appearance came when I was a freshman in high school; they should be going for it. Castillo would’ve been perfect for the Yankees, but if the Reds liked what the Mariners offered more, well, so be it. Of course, as luck would have it, Castillo will be making his Mariners debut against the Yankees this coming week.

Now that he’s off the board, the Yankees’ focus will likely turn to Oakland pitcher Frankie Montas. They’ve also been linked to Noah Syndergaard and Jose Quintana. There was a report yesterday that the Giants are even willing to listen on Carlos Rodon. Any of these four would pass the “better than Domingo German” test, and that’s really what the Yankees need. Even when Severino returns, one of them could help deepen the rotation and give the Yankees plenty of post-Gerrit Cole options for a stretch and playoff run rotation. Montas and Rodon would be preferable to the other two, but I wouldn’t scoff at Quintana or Thor.

Additionally, the Yankees have been linked to (another) reunion with David Robertson, now of the Cubs. Given the injuries to Michael King and Chad Green, this move would make a ton of sense. He’s an established, experienced reliever used to playoff runs and high-leverage spots. It would likely behoove the Yankees to bring him home.

All of it, of course, is price-dependent, but with the position the Yankees are in, how close they are to a title run, I’m more than a little willing to pay higher prices. Flags fly forever, folks.

The Yankees are an excellent team with a big lead and virtually guaranteed playoff odds. That doesn’t mean they can’t and shouldn’t make tweaks and improvements. This, more than any other recently, is the year to strike hard at the deadline and go for it.

The Yankees Need to Suspend Josh Donaldson

The Yankees need to suspend Josh Donaldson. There is no other way to say it. What he said to Tim Anderson in the course of Saturday’s game is unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist. For that, he needs to lose playing time and game checks. I’m not sure exactly what the appropriate length of suspension or amount of fine should be, but there needs to be something.

Additionally, this needs to come from the Yankees. They cannot and should not let the league step in after the fact and do it for them. Randy, Bobby, and I were harsh on the Yankees on the podcast in the wake of their weak response to George Floyd’s murder and the surrounding protests and I think I can speak for them when I say I hope they’ve learned their lesson. However, given PR’s weak statement after yesterday’s game, along with Donaldson’s, it’s pretty clear that isn’t the case. Those two statements, justifications, whatever, demonstrate that, at least initially, neither the organization nor the player understand why what Donaldson said was unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist.

Regardless of what I think, what you think, Tim Anderson, the person at whom the comment was leveled, thought it was racist. That alone should be all the ‘proof’ one needs to know that what Donaldson said was, in fact, racist. A reminder to my fellow white people: We do not get to be the arbiters of what is or isn’t racist. We do not get to tell Black people why they are wrong about what they find racist. If you find yourself doing this, stop.

I worry that, in the coming days, Donaldson’s Black teammates and coaches will be asked about this incessantly and have to answer for their teammate’s racist remark, putting them in a virtual no-win situation. It’s his white teammates who need to be asked about this, who need to show they understand why what Donaldson was wrong, who need to show they will be the ones to hold him accountable for what he said. If they don’t understand, they (and Donaldson, of course) need to be made to understand. Anything short of that is unacceptable.

What Josh Donaldson said was, again, unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist. There should be no room for it anywhere in baseball, let alone on the Yankees. I implore them to do the right thing and suspend and fine him and make sure he gets the education enough to understand why he was wrong. If the Yankees are unwilling or unable to do that, I hope the league steps in and swiftly corrects them.

Last night’s loss accentuated concerns about the 2022 Yankees

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The season is only four games old, and jumping to conclusions this soon is a dangerous game to play. That said, yesterday’s 3-0 loss to Toronto served as a reminder of some of the issues the Yankees have at hand. Some of these concerns predated the 2022 season, and although obvious opportunities existed to address such problems, the organization failed to provide answers.

Let’s set the stage from last night. In the bottom of the seventh, down 3-0, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Hicks reached base to start the inning against reliever Trevor Richards. Due up next were the eighth and ninth hitters, Kyle Higashioka and Marwin Gonzalez. Richards, who looked dreadful, could not be removed until facing a third hitter while the Blue Jays’ bullpen hurried a new arm.

Translation: Aaron Boone could have forced a shaky Richards to face Josh Donaldson in a pinch hit situation. He didn’t. Instead, Boone let Higashioka bat, who flew out on a 2-1 count. Then, in came sidewinder Adam Cimber, a very tough at bat for righties. Boone finally called upon Donaldson to hit for Gonzalez, but it was too late. Yes, JD hit the ball hard, but it was a double play to end the threat.

An Obligatory Preseason Lineup Post

As obligatory as a post about the lineup, so is the following statement. Overall, lineup construction doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you really screw it up. We may not be Aaron Boone’s biggest fans here, but we know he’s not going to hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa leadoff and Aaron Judge ninth. Still, it’s a fun thing to muse about and when there isn’t any real action to dissect yet, it’s a good thought exercise.

This one in particular was brought on by the lineup the Yankees put out in their Spring Training matchup with the Blue Jays yesterday:

For one reason or another, one I couldn’t entirely place and really still can’t, I liked the top-6 of that lineup, not just the players, but the way they were ordered. I’d probably flip DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, however, and the addition of Anthony Rizzo would necessitate those previous two moving down. Putting Rizzo in there means it’s the full strength lineup. Here’s how I’d order them.

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