The Yankees were supposed to go on the road and return home with their season back on track after beating up on the Indians and Orioles. Instead, they return home in last place and three games under .500.
1. The Yankees’ eight-game road trip was an enormous disappointment. After starting the trip 3-0 against the Indians, the Yankees lost three of the last five to finish 5-3. That’s not good enough. It’s not nearly good enough. You can’t have barely-winning road trips against the worst teams in the league if you’re going to get embarrassed every time you play the Rays and Blue Jays, like the Yankees have. With a 3-9 record against the Rays and Blue Jays, the Yankees can’t afford 5-3 road trips against the Indians and Orioles. They have to demolish those teams. They have to win six or seven or all eight games in this instance. For loser Aaron Boone, the 5-3 trip was considered a success.
“Obviously, you go out on a road trip and have a winning record like that,” Boone said, “Certainly, that’s good.”
No, it’s not good. It’s not good when it’s April 30 and you’re in last place in the division and three games under .500. The season is 25 games in and 15 percent complete and Friday’s game against the Tigers is the last game of April, and Boone is still trying to act as though everything is fine with his team, the team that was the preseason favorite to represent the American League in the World Series.
2. “We gotta continue to play better,” Boone said, “And keep it moving.”
To “continue” to do something, you have to already be doing it. The Yankees aren’t playing better. They just lost two of four to the Orioles. Prior to that, they had to come from behind in the first three games against the Indians and blew a three-run lead in the fourth game against them. The Yankees just scored 33 runs on their eight-game trip. They scored 17 runs in four games at Camden Yards, the most hitter-friendly venue in the majors.
This was going to be it. This 11-game stretch was going to be the 11 games to erase the previous 11 games in which the Yankees went 3-8 against the Rays, Blue Jays and Braves. Eleven games against the Indians, Orioles and Tigers were going to save the Yankees’ season. They would have the chance to beat up on the Indians, who now have the second-lowest payroll in the league by essentially admitting they don’t care to be competitive, they could continue their dominance over the Orioles at while miraculously missing John Means in a four-game series and finally they would get to see the Tigers, who boast the majors’ worst record and run differential. By the end of play on May 2 and after a month of bad baseball, the Yankees’ season would be in a disappointing, but acceptable place. Unless, they sweep the Tigers this weekend (which is something a good team would do), they still won’t be in an acceptable place.
3. The Yankees opened their series in Baltimore by getting shut down by Matt Harvey. One hit against Harvey in five innings and no runs off him until the sixth. It was easily the lowest point of the Yankees’ season and I wrote on Tuesday I don’t think there can possibly be a lower point. I take that back. If they lose to the Tigers on Friday, it will be the new low point. John Sterling likes to say “you can’t predict baseball,” but if the Yankees can’t beat the Tigers at home with Gerrit Cole on the mound then they are even worse than I thought they are, and I think they suck. If the Yankees lose on Friday, maybe just pack up the bats and balls and we’ll see you in 2022.
4. It’s easier to name good Yankees than bad ones right now. There’ Cole, Aroldis Chapman, Darren O’Day, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King and Kyle Higashioka. That’s it. To me, Gleyber Torres has been the biggest disappointment since I don’t expect Aaron Hicks to be good, don’t expect Giancarlo Stanton to be clutch, don’t expect Rougned Odor to make contact, don’t expect Gary Sanchez to hit middle-middle fastballs, don’t expect Brett Gardner to catch up high-velocity pitches at this point in his career, don’t expect Aaron Judge to stay healthy and don’t expect the rotation after Cole to do anything.
Torres had three hits in the first game in Cleveland. He then went 7-for-23 (.259/.333/.370) the rest of the road trip. The one positive is that he has doubled in three straight games. He has five extra-base hits, all doubles, in April. He’s one game away from not homering in the entire month after hitting three home runs in the two-month 2020 season.
5. “He’s close and the power will happen, Boone said. “But at least encouraged by the way that he’s moving this last week of at-bats.”
I’m tired of hearing about things that “will happen” from Boone. The offense will hit. The starting pitching will get better. Judge will play regularly. Boone saying it’s going to happen doesn’t mean it will, and nothing he has said will happen has happened yet.
Torres hasn’t homered in 103 plate appearances this season. He has 14 home runs in his last 444 plate appearances, including the postseason. I’m not expecting him to be a 38-home run hitter like he was in 2019 since those numbers are a joke, considering Brett Gardner hit 28 with the baseball from that season, but how is Torres no longer a 20-home run hitter? With each passing day, I’m more and more worried about Torres.
6. I’m no longer worried about Sanchez. He was supposed to be the team’s everyday catcher and also catch Cole this season. He has caught Cole once and now he’s been benched with Higashioka taking over the majority of playing time.
Even though I have always liked Sanchez, I’m not defending him. He hasn’t been good. But no one has been. Yet he’s the one getting benched and being made a scapegoat for the team’s problems for the second straight season because he isn’t one of Boone’s favorites.
Hicks was supposed to be benched for two games. He was benched for seven games. Why hasn’t he had his playing time taken away? Oh, that’s right, Boone and the Yankees think he’s Bernie Williams 2.0. Why hasn’t Torres been benched? He’s only been promoted to bat third. Why hasn’t Odor been benched? He continues to play every day and force a three-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman to first base. Why hasn’t Stanton been benched when he’s going bad? Because he gets built in personal off days anyway or because he’s owed a billion dollars or because of his historic season four years ago?
Only Sanchez and Frazier (who was named the team’s starting left fielder and then benched after seven games) have experienced a reduction in playing time. In Frazier’s case, Gardner has been so bad that Frazier is now an everyday player again. Sanchez is going to need Higashioka to fall apart for Boone to turn on one of his favorites.
7. Judge’s injuries are a joke, and in turn, he’s becoming a joke. I wrote about this at length here.
8. The Yankees were 12 outs away from a win on Thursday when Boone let Jordan Montgomery face Trey Mancini to lead off the sixth inning despite Chad Green being warmed up and ready to go. In Boone’s latest attempt to steal outs with his starter, the Baseball Gods gave him another reminder of why that’s not a viable strategy as Mancini took Montgomery deep.
Boone was asked about his latest backfiring decision that cost his team a win and why he didn’t go to the dominant Green.
“Just, frankly, long, long season where you gotta lean on starters during everyday stretches,” Boone said. “You can’t just run to the best matchup in the bullpen in the middle of the game every time.”
Another nonsensical answer from the Yankees manager. He did run to Green. As soon as Mancini’s homer cleared the wall, Boone pulled Montgomery from the game. So if he was willing to go to Green in the sixth, why didn’t he start it? His response makes zero sense. Zero.
9. “I want these starters to be able to push themselves through some situations,” Boone said. “Especially on days where we have score leverage, not just running to the bullpen and to matchups all the time in the middle of games.”
“Score leverage?” You mean you have the lead. Why does he feel the need to make everything seem scientific? You had a lead, not “score leverage,” you idiot. And if you want starters to work through things, why did we see so much Nick Nelson with the bases loaded before he was sent down? No one contradicts their own actions like Boone.
10. The offense is lost, and I don’t know if it will be found. It was one thing after the season-opening series or the first two, or the first week. We’re now four weeks into the season. This isn’t a small sample size and it’s not early.
“You’re not always gonna get the big hit in the big situation,” Boone said as if the Yankees ever get the big hit in the big situation. “We gotta build on some of the positives that are starting to happen offensively.”
Nothing is happening positively offensively. Try to think of one positive. I’ll wait.
“We’re not all the way where I know we’re going to get to offensively,” Boone said after apparently looking into the future. Maybe he can let me know the winning numbers for Mega Millions for this week while he’s at predicting the future.
Maybe the offense will break out this weekend at home against the Tigers. Maybe the Yankees will sweep the worst team in Major League Baseball. If they don’t, don’t worry, they will just say they will break out next week instead.
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