Off Day Dreaming: The Real Yankees Need to Return

The Yankees need their regular everyday lineup to get through the tough schedule in May

The Yankees’ first of two West Coast trips this season is over. The next time the Yankees play a late game won’t be until August 20 when they play the A’s, Dodgers and Mariners to end summer. I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m happy Yankees baseball is back to being played at a normal hour.

There are only two off days in May with this being one of them, which means a lot of Yankees baseball and only one other Off Day Dreaming blog. Starting tomorrow, the Yankees will play 30 games in 31 days through June 2.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees on their second off day in the last four days.

1. If you have ever received a gift or news in life leading to a euphoric high then you know exactly how Aaron Boone feels today. Starting tomorrow, the Yankees will play 30 games in 31 games through June 2 and that means scheduled off days for everyday players, extra rest for the pitching staff and even more days off for players returning from the injured list even if they just missed weeks or months.

There’s only one thing Boone loves more than scheduling off days for his regulars weeks in advance regardless of their current play and that is bringing in mediocre relievers into game-changing situations.

2. Can Aaron Boone please stop bringing Jonathan Holder into game-changing situations? Please. I wrote last week how untrustworthy Holder has been as a Yankee, yet Boone keeps going to him in any close game as the first reliever out of the pen to immediately relieve the starter.

I thought Holder allowing both inherited runners to score in a tie game in the only loss in Anaheim might be the final straw for Boone electing to continue to use the mediocre reliever, but on Tuesday in Arizona, Boone went right back to him. Trailing by one run in the sixth with two on and one out, Boone took the ball from CC Sabathia and called on Holder. Holder immediately walked the first batter he faced load the bases and then got gifted a check-swing comebacker to the mound to begin an inning-ending double play. Boone stayed on 16 with the dealer showing a 7, and the dealer flipped over an 8 and pulled a 10 to bust, and Boone thinks he made the right decision based on the result.

Boone’s bullpen management helped send the Yankees to the wild-card game last season and then ruined the ALDS for the team, and he hasn’t shown anything to prove he won’t make more enormous mistakes in big games in 2019 as he continues to manage to the inning rather than the situation.

3. Here is my updated Yankees Bullpen Level of Trust (1-10 Scale)

Dellin Betances 9.1
Aroldis Chapman 8.4
Adam Ottavino 8.2
Zack Britton 7.1
Tommy Kahnle 5.2
Jonathan Holder 3.4
Luis Cessa 3.1
Joseph Harvey 2.8
Stephen Tarpley 1.9

4. Boone was ejected from Wednesday’s game and looked foolish in the process. He was upset about a challenge not going in his favor, even though the umpires don’t have control over the result of challenges, and then he was upset the umpires didn’t award Tyler Wade first base when he claimed to be hit a by a pitch on the foot, even though replay showed he didn’t get hit by the pitch.

If I was home plate umpire Paul Emmel, as soon as I turned around and Boone was standing in my face, the first thing I would say is, “Look, Aaron, I didn’t sit DJ LeMahieu even though he’s able to play and I didn’t bat Mike Tauchman fifth in the lineup and I didn’t start Tyler Wade.” I have a hard time believing Boone would have anything to say after that.

5. I understand the Yankees are as short as can be on available players, but can Tauchman not bat fifth anymore? I don’t care that he’s a left-handed bat against a right-handed starter. Tauchman isn’t the left-handed Luke Voit, and he’s not a diamond in the rough to make the Yankees front office look good for acquiring. If he has to play for the time being, fine, bat him at the bottom of the order and put Gio Urshela or Cameron Maybin or someone more deserving of being higher in the order in his spot for now.

6. As for Wade, I’m well past the point of being done with and over Wade. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t watch him go to the plate and roll over another weak ground ball to the right side. I can’t.

I saw a tweet on Wednesday that Wade has “barreled” one ball in his major league career. To be “barreled”, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. Wade has had 189 career plate appearances and has seen 738 pitches and only one of those 738 pitches has been classified as “barreled”. I’m not even sure how that’s possible. One out of 738. If you want to use only strikes then he’s “barreled” one pitch out of 468, which is still ridiculous. Apparently, whatever training Albert Pujols gave him in the offseason hasn’t stuck.

Wade is really fast and defensively can play all over the field, but his offensive ineptitude should be enough to keep him out of the majors. If the Yankees want him to be the 25th man on the postseason roster to be used a pinch runner, I’m OK with it, but that’s the extent of me being OK with him being a Yankee. The second enough regular everyday players are back, get Wade off the team.

7. For as fun, unexpected, improbable and exciting as this 11-4 run has been with the replacement Yankees, Zack Greinke quickly reminded Yankees fans why having actual everyday major leaguers in a lineup is important. Sure, Greinke is a very good pitcher and can shut down any team when he’s on, but he isn’t the Greinke of even a couple of years ago, and the Yankees had their chances against him and came up short.

The actual Yankees, batting 1 through 4, of Brett Gardner, Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres went 4 for 15 with the only run scored and RBI, a walk and three strikeouts. The replacement Yankees of Tauchman, Maybin, Thairo Estrada, Wade and Urshela went 1 for 13 with an infield single and four strikeouts. After Sanchez and Torres hit back-to-back doubles to tie the game at 1 in the fourth inning, Tauchman, Maybin and Estrada left Torres stranded at second in what ended up being the difference in the game until Zack Britton gave up an insurance run for the Diamondbacks. Merrill Kelly, the 30-year-old major league rookie, followed Greinke’s performance with a gem of his own, allowing one earned run over 5 1/3 innings in a 3-2 Yankees loss.

8. I understand the road trip should be considered an overall success as the Yankees won six of nine, but it’s time for the real Yankees to return. The Rays lost both games of a doubleheader to the lowly Royals and the Red Sox swept the A’s, so the Yankees failed to make up ground on the Rays and also lost ground on the Red Sox. Enough is enough with sitting out DJ LeMahieu, despite him being available, and slowly, and I mean as slowly as possible, bringing back the other injured Yankees. We’re 30 games into the season.

9. Masahiro Tanaka has now had three crappy starts in his last four.

April 14 vs. White Sox: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
April 25 @ Angels: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR
May 2 @ Diamondbacks: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR

Tanaka always figures it out and I trust him more than anyone on the team in October (1.50 ERA in five career postseason starts), so I’m not worried about him, I just wish he would be more consistent, especially since the May schedule is going to be way more challenging than the April schedule was.

10. Back when the Yankees were 5-8, I wrote that I thought a 16-13 record at the end of April was doable. After losing Tuesday’s game, they finished April at 17-12, one game better than the goal I set for them. Looking ahead to May, they have 29 games this month, and outside of seven games against the Orioles (anything less than 5-2 against the Orioles will be considered a disaster), their schedule is full of games against potential postseason teams, including six against the Rays and two against the Red Sox.

Since my Yankees record goal magic worked so well in April, I’m going to say they should go at least 17-12 in May.


My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!