The Yankees were a game under .500 then a game over .500 then two games under .500 then .500 and now they’re two games under .500 again. That’s a textbook bad team, and that’s what the Yankees are. They aren’t average or mediocre because they would have to be .500 to be that. They flat-out suck.
1. I used to hate off days on the Yankees’ schedule. Not anymore. Not with this team. A day off from watching this team is like a vacation. There’s no being frustrated, annoyed, upset or angry over a bad baseball team that is run poorly, managed poorly and plays poorly.
I wish I could go back to life on March 31. Back to the day before this miserable season began when there hadn’t been any games yet, and the idea that this season might be different than the previous three was still a possibility. That’s no longer a possibility as the Yankees are a mess.
2. In the series finale, I didn’t expect the Yankees to win. So when Bo Bichette took Chad Green deep to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, all I could do was laugh because this team is a joke. In the rubber game of a series against the team the Yankees are directly competing against for the division, and with an off day the following day, Aaron Boone still decided to give both DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton the day off. The Yankees played an immensely important game without their leadoff hitter and best defensive infielder and without their cleanup hitter for no reason other than that their manager thought they needed to rest.
Rest from what? Stanton entered the season having played 51 games since the start of 2019. How could he need more time off? The 2021 season has been going on for 15 days. In those 15 days, the Yankees have had three scheduled days off (April 2, 8 and 15). Stanton, personally, has had another two days off (April 4 and 14). In 15 days, he has played 10 games, all as the designated hitter. He has barely exerted any energy. He has scored three runs and one of them was on his lone home run, so he has barely had to run the bases. He has barely been on base with his dismal .233 on-base percentage. He’s also making $179,012.35 per game this season (though the Marlins are paying some of his salary), so Boone may want to have him play sometimes. And by play, I mean walk from the dugout to the on-deck circle, from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box and then maybe walk back to the dugout (strikeout), jog to first (walk or base hit to the outfield), jog the bases (home run), or do something between a jog and run (groundout or flyout).
If you think things are bad with Stanton when it comes to his actual production and the amount of time off he gets, think about what you will be doing six years from now. Because six years from now, the Yankees will be still be playing Stanton. They will either be paying him to be their 37-year-old designated hitter or they will be paying him to not play for them. And eight years from now, they will pay him a $10 million buyout to not play for them.
3. For the first time as a Yankee, LeMahieu has looked off. How would you go about getting LeMahieu back on track? I would think you would want him to play and get at-bats and correct whatever is screwing him up. It’s hard to do that when you’re sitting on the bench, but Boone clearly thinks not getting at-bats is what LeMahieu needs to produce better at-bats. If you’re terrible at cooking, the best way to get better is to simply not cook. Just sit in the living room and look at the kitchen and envision yourself cooking. That’s what Boone had LeMahieu do on Wednesday.
4. I don’t have the energy anymore to fight the Aaron Hicks battle. I’m tired and worn down. The Yankees think he’s Bernie Williams and no lack of production will change their mind. I also have lost the energy to criticize the decision to not add any major-league- worthy left-handed bats in the offseason, so the Yankees continue to force Rougned Odor and Jay Bruce into the lineup. Outside of Gerrit Cole and a couple of home runs from Gary Sanchez two weeks ago, there is nothing else to be happy or excited about with this team unless you’re excited about a scumbag being given the fifth starter spot out of spring training, a tired and overworked bullpen, a lineup that doesn’t walk as much as they used to and can’t hit or a former two-time Cy Young winner who’s making J.A. Happ seem not so bad.
5. Back on Jan. 7, I wrote a blog titled Corey Kluber Is Perfect Low-Risk, High-Reward Candidate. I stand by that. He was the perfect candidate for the back end of the Yankees’ rotation, and if he were to regain his pre-2019 form then the Yankees would have an elite option behind Cole and Luis Severino (once he comes back). I thought he could be a valuable piece as a guy trying to save his career. I didn’t think he would be the piece. I didn’t think the Yankees would be foolish enough to trust a 35-year-old coming off a shoulder injury with a lot of miles on his right arm to be their No. 2 starter.
Kluber has been awful, and if his name weren’t Corey Kluber and the Yankees weren’t paying him $11 million this season, he would no longer be a Yankee. But he’s what they have right now, and what that is is a really bad starting pitcher, who doesn’t give the team length or quality innings, and is ineffective in the small amount of innings he does give them. Here is Kluber’s line in three starts: 10.1 IP, 16 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 12 K, 3 HR, 6.10 ERA, 2.226 WHIP. You can’t even turn to his FIP to try and make it seem like he’s been better than traditional numbers suggest because he has a 7.20 FIP.
6. On Wednesday, Kluber was horrible, yet again. He only lasted four innings, giving up three earned runs and two home runs. No one could say he was any good with a straight face. No one except for Boone.
“Kluber, I still think is close,” Boone said after the game. “I thought the stuff was fine.”
Close to what? No longer being a major leaguer? He’s certainly not close to figuring it out or turning into the pitcher he was in Cleveland. If Kluber ever gets through five innings as a Yankee and records 15 outs, they should stop the game like when a player reaches a historic milestone and have the entire team go out to the mound and hug him. That’s how far away he is.
As for his stuff being fine. What? He put eight baserunners on in four innings. He’s put 23 runner on in 10 1/3 innings this season. That doesn’t seem like “fine” stuff to me.
7. That answer about Kluber’s performance from Boone was expected. Boone is a liar. All he does is lie. He lies about injuries. He lies about performance. He lies about roles on the team. Lie after lie after lie.
At his season-opening press conference at spring training, Boone said Clint Frazier would be the team’s everyday left fielder. At the time, the Yankees’ most recent games had been their seven postseason games in which Boone benched Frazier for Brett Gardner in five of them. Back on Feb. 22, I wrote:
If the Yankees were completely healthy, I still think Boone inexplicably sits Frazier against right-handed starting pitching and plays Gardner in left field those days. He did it in the 2020 postseason, so why wouldn’t he do it again in the 2021 regular season? Nothing has changed since then.
Frazier has started nine of the Yankees’ 12 games, but he’s only started six in left field. I thought “everyday player” meant you play every day, not half of the days. The only reason Frazier has appeared in nine games overall is because of the games Aaron Judge missed due to an injury Boone lied about. If not for Judge’s injury, Frazier would have played in six of 12 games.
8. Frazier’s playing time is tied to every single at-bat. There’s no room for error. An 0-for-4 game will find him on the bench the following day. This past week, when trying to sugarcoat the Yankees’ embarrassing offense, he mentioned how baseball is “a game of failure.” Except, it’s only a game of failure when it fits his narrative. Like talking about why his lineups suck or why Hicks can’t hit or why Gleyber Torres looks like he has completely lost all of his ability to play the sport or why Stanton can’t hit the ball in the air. It’s not a game of failure for Frazier.
Frazier has been playing under unrealistic expectations his entire Yankees tenure and this season has taken it to another level. Meanwhile, Judge and Hicks and Stanton, and even Gardner, are allowed to endure extended and endless slumps with no change in their playing time or spot in the batting order. It’s sickening. It really is.
I wanted Gardner back if he were to finally be the team’s fourth outfielder, not as someone who would once again take playing time and at-bats from Frazier. Through 12 games, Gardner has started as many games in left field as Frazier. At a time when the Yankees desperately need offense, they’re turning to the 38-year-old with a career .744 OPS.
9. Remember when Boone said Cole didn’t have a personal catcher in spring training? If you believed him, you likely believe Severino knew the start time of Game 3 of the 2018 ALDS.
The idea Kyle Higashioka makes Cole good is the most ridiculous thing of all time. All time. ALL TIME. You could pull any professional catcher from any level of affiliated or independent baseball, and he would dominate. The only reason the person would need that level of experience would be to catch his breaking pitches.
So now Gary Sanchez will apparently have every fifth day off no matter the opponent or importance of the game. If the Yankees are to reach the postseason, and I say if at this point because it’s clearly no longer a given, that means Higashioka will play in the biggest games of the season. You could see Higashioka in Games 1, 4 and 7 of a seven-game series. Obviously playing in a seven-game series would mean the Yankees have reached the ALCS or World Series and right now they are about as “close” to that as Kluber is close to whatever Boone was suggesting he is close to.
10. The Yankees will hit. They will. They might not hit when it matters or against elite starters or in October, but over the course of six months they will see enough awful pitching that they will score runs. I’m not worried about the offense long term.
I’m worried about the starting pitching though. I truly don’t think it’s going to get better. Kluber isn’t going to suddenly become a seven-inning, 3.00-ERA guy. Jameson Taillon will never be allowed to give the team length since the Yankees are petrified of him getting hurt, and they would rather have him not pitch than win games or preserve their bullpen. Jordan Montgomery is inconsistent. Scumbag German sucks. Deivi Garcia is being wasted at the alternate site. The Yankees are setting themselves up to desperately need Severino to return this summer and be his pre-injured self, which is unfair to him given the time normally needed after Tommy John surgery to regain peak ability, and it’s just an unrealistic expectation.
The Yankees are in trouble. Big trouble. If they don’t outhit their own pitching, there won’t be a postseason for them in 2021. That’s not what I’m worried about though. I’m worried they won’t reach the postseason, will bring back the same roster for 2022 and retain Boone. That’s what keeps me up at night.
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