Monday Mentions: Bad Pitching, Hitting, Managing and Contracts

Joe Girardi

The Yankees are going to be hosting the one-game playoff next Tuesday thanks to what happened last week in Toronto. The good news is that they’re going to the playoffs for the first time in three years. The bad news is they’re in the one-game playoff. The worse news is if they win the one-game playoff, they’re likely going to have to go to Toronto and not Kansas City for the first two games of the ALDS.

Here is another installment of “Monday Mentions” focused on questions and comments from Twitter about what happened over the last week to the Yankees.

I’m a Chasen Shreve fan, so it’s hard for me to talk badly about him, considering he was good for and only recently fell apart. I’m not sure if it’s fatigue or that the league has adjusted to him or a combination of the two, but something is certainly off with him. Look at these two pitching lines from him:

First 50 appearances: 53.1 IP, 33 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 27 BB, 60 K, 6 HR, 1.86 ERA, 1.125 WHIP.

Last seven appearances: 4.1 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 3 HR, 12.46 ERA, 3.695 WHIP.

The guy was lights out for nearly the entire season and helped save the bullpen and essentially the summer when Andrew Miller was on the disabled list. Outside of Shreve and Dellin Betances, and I guess Justin Wilson, there was no one and I mean no one else who could get an out in the bullpen. That’s when Esmil Rogers and David Carpenter were still being asked to pitch regularly. Here’s to hoping Shreve bounces back quickly and these last seven appearances goes down as nothing more than a bad stretch at a bad time.

After playing in the one-game playoff, the next scariest part of the postseason is that Joe Girardi will sit down and try to decide which pitchers not named Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson he is going to carry in the playoffs. After those seven, there really isn’t anyone worthy of a spot, but five or six more pitchers are going to make it.

If the Yankees win the one-game playoff and reach the ALDS and trail in any of those games are in any of the games in the postseason at all, Girardi needs to realize the game is not lost. You would think this would be obvious, but in the 2011 ALDS, he brought in Luis Ayala twice before bringing in David Robertson once, in games the Yankees started to mount comebacks in. In the 2009 World Series, he brought in Brian Bruney and Phil Coke into the ninth inning of Game 1 and they gave up two runs to increase their deficit from 4-0 to 6-0. In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees had two on with no outs to start the inning. They only scored one run, but they were one swing away from being back in the game. Don’t bring B and C and D relievers into a playoff game. The division was already lost partly because of this.

I never wanted Jacoby Ellsbury. I wrote about it the second Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners and the Yankees turned around and threw their Cano money at Ellsbury. It was the exact type of signing the Yankees preached about avoiding in the future because they were going through the effects from the contracts given to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia and what they had previously endured with Jason Giambi. But that doesn’t mean I want to call Jacoby Ellsbury “The Thief”. I would much rather call him something that resembles him earning his $130,511.46 per game.

Outside of one great season in Boston, Ellsbury has been Brett Gardner. You could even say Gardner has been better than him. So why did the team give Gardner $13 million a season and give Ellsbury $21.1 million per season? They essentially bid against themselves since the Red Sox supposedly didn’t even make an offer to Ellsbury and none of the other big spenders were about to give that kind of money to a player whose entire game is based on speed and who is on the other side of 30.

It’s not out of the question that Ellsbury was given the worst contract in Yankees history. Everyone will always point to Carl Pavano, but he made his entire deal in less than two years of Ellsbury’s, and Ellsbury’s is a seven-year deal. If he’s this bad and this unproductive and this injury prone as a 32-year-old center fielder, what exactly is he going to be when he’s 36 and 37?

Hey, if me calling Ellsbury “The Thief” and Chase Headley “The Bum” could in any way turn around their seasons with a week to go and the one-game playoff waiting next Tuesday, I will gladly create a negative name for every player on the team. Though it will be hard to think of one for Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

I gave Chase Headley the nickname “The Bum” recently because he perfectly fits the description of a “bum.” Well, so does Jacoby Ellsbury, but he’s already “The Thief,” so I have to spread the names around.

I remember the rumors that Headley’s agent started that he had an offer for five years and $65 million on the table. I know this was a rumor and never actually a real offer because his agent wouldn’t have had time to leak this number to the media because Headley would have been signing it as fast as humanly possible. Headley received four years and $52 million from the Yankees because they were desperate for a third baseman and there was nowhere else to turn on the free-agent market. If the team willing to spend the most money needed to fill a position and they gave you one year and $13 million less than you reportedly were offered, well, it never happened.

Headley has been horrible. He hasn’t hit for average, he hasn’t fit for power, he has played some of the worst defense in the league, he has no speed and his throws are wild. Is there an opposite of a five-tool player because that’s what Headley is.

Joe Girardi definitely had a hand in the Yankees losing the division over the last week-plus when he turned to Triple-A relievers and made questionable decisions in the biggest games of the season. But for as bad as Girardi has been recently and for as much as I have crushed him, there are two real reasons why the Yankees lost the division:

Chris Capuano
The Yankees gave Capuano $5 million to return this season after he pitched to a 4.25 ERA in 65 2/3 innings last year for them (after he was released by the last-place Red Sox on July 1). You know who else got a one-year, $5 million deal? Stephen Drew. (We’ll get to him.) I guess a one-year, $5 million deal is the going rate for pitchers and players that aren’t good and that no one else wants. I’m pretty sure neither of those players was going to get that much money from any other team in baseball.

But it’s not about the money with Capuano. It’s about the fact that he was given three starts in May and lost all of them. And then he was brought into an extra-inning game against the Nationals on June 10 and lost that. And then in his next and what was his last start (to this point), he gave up five earned runs and got only two outs in the first inning in Texas, but luckily, the offense backed him with a 21-run game.

Second Base
All season we had to watch Stephen Drew and Brendan Ryan struggle to get base hits and at times struggle to field despite supposedly playing because of their defense. Everyone in the world had a theory as to why the two were being given unlimited chances to succeed while Rob Refsnyder kept on playing in Triple-A. Eventually, I gave up and just figured there was no chance Refsnyder would be given another chance, even after September call-ups, and had to settle for the idea he would have to win the job in spring training next year (though he should have won the job in spring training this year). Then, with a postseason berth on the line, Refsnyder started a game, and another one and another one and kept on starting. Between Refsnyder against left-handed pitchers (and sometimes against right-handed pitchers) and Dustin Ackley against right-handed pitchers, the Yankees suddenly had an unacceptable Major League platoon and weren’t giving up an out every time that spot came up in the order.

Now Ackley hadn’t been on the team all season and once he was traded to the Yankees at the deadline he instantly went on the disabled list after about 15 minutes. But Refsnyder has been with the organization and wasn’t allowed to play nearly the whole season until the stretch run with the team trying to clinch a playoff spot? How does that make any sense? If the Yankees really wanted him to wait until next season, they would be giving him at-bats here and there over these final weeks to continue to get his feet wet in the majors. But to make him the starting second baseman as part of a platoon with Ackley, while Drew and Ryan continue to sit goes against everything we have been led to believe by the Yankees this season.

Now that #GiveRobTheJob has worked and Capuano no longer hurts the team as a member of the rotation and barely a member of the bullpen, the Yankees are a better team. But they could have been this team all season and because they weren’t, they have to play in the one-game playoff.