I came into New York last week to see 2 of my best friends, and to get an up close and personal look at the 2019 Yankees. I saw the last 2 games of the Padres series, and despite the fact the Yanks went 1-1 it confirmed what I have been seeing on my TV. The 2019 Yankees are good. Really Damn good.
On Tuesday night Masahiro Tanaka had a bad 1st inning (which he has been known to do from time to time) and put the Bombers in an early 4-0 hole after an Eric Hosmer 3 run homer. As usual, the Yanks rallied and had the tying run on in the 9th against former Yankee scrub (now all of a sudden good reliever) Kirby Yates. Unfortunately, DJ Lemahieu hit into a replay confirmed, game-ending double play. 5-4 Padres final. Meh, you can’t win them all during a 162 game baseball season.
Wednesday afternoon saw the Bronx Bombers on full display as the Yanks got back-to-back leadoff homers from LeMahieu and Voit off Padres stud righty Chris Paddack. Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres also added homers in the 7-0 whitewash.
The coolest thing to see live was the return of James Paxton from the IL. Paxton was absolutely filthy no hitting the Pads in his 4 innings of work. The stud lefty struck out 7 (inducing an insane 17 swings and misses) and walked 2. He was on a limited pitch count and departed after 66 pitches. The Yanks must do everything in their power to keep this guy healthy. When he is right he is a legitimate # 1 starter.
Since I left town New York had a rainout and then won 2 of 3 from the hated Red Sox. The Yanks then headed north to Toronto and lost the 1st 2 games of a series with the bullpen flushing a 7-4 lead last night after the offense led by Lemahieu erased the early 3 nothing hold Paxton put them in. Losing streaks happen so it’s no need to panic, but the Yankees can’t get swept by this putrid Blue Jays team. They are facing career journeyman Edwin Jackson so the offense needs to put up double digits and get the club back in the win column.
Since I am covering about a weeks worth of games I thought I would end with some bullet points on my general thoughts about the 2019 Yankees.
Gary Sanchez is starting to look like the beast that burst on the scene in 2016. His average is up to .270 and his 19 homers have already surpassed his total from last years injury-filled campaign. I have never been one of there zuks who says he stinks, but I am not exactly the president of his fan club either. He has Miguel Cabrera in his prime talent. If he can learn to take what an opposing pitcher gives him, instead of trying to pull 9 run homers he has the ability to be a hall of famer. It is all mental with him.
As a guy who grew up living under the Steinbrenner doctrine of a win at all costs, I would like to see the Yankees flex their financial might and stop caring about the luxury tax threshold ala the Red Sox and Cubs. This club needs Dallas Keuchel. Tanaka has had 2 clunkers his last 2 starts. JA Happ is homer prone. CC’s knee is a ticking timebomb. Paxton will finally be all systems go in this next start and not be on a pitch count. Domingo German looks like he is hitting the wall. The bullpen is getting taxed too often. Keuchel is not Sandy Koufax, but if he can give the Yanks 6 to 7 innings every time out he is going to save bullets from that pen
For a team that looks like it is championship worthy the bottom of the Yankee roster sure has some holes. Especially on the pitching staff. Jonathan Holder stinks, and his trending to being my least favorite Yankee. Luis Cessa continues to tease them with a dominant outing or 2, then promptly resorts to being Luis Cessa. Bad Chad Green scares the crap out of me. David Hale is a career journeyman so he does not belong on a championship caliber team. If Keuchel signs that gets rid of Hale, and moves everyone down a notch in the pecking order. The starter pitching the worst either goes to the pen or goes on the IL. IF big IF Luis Severino returns after the all-star break that puts German (because of his innings limit) into the pen into Greens old role and gets Cessa off the roster. Then finally if Dellin Betances (who in my opinion the club has missed the most of any of the injured players) comes back that gets Holder back down to Scranton. Then if Brian Cashman acquires a starter or a reliever at the trade deadline they have a plethora of options. If it’s a starter the Yanks can go to a 6 man rotation (to keep Tanaka, Paxton, CC fresh) or DFA Green and put the starter pitching the worst of CC, Happ, or German in the pen instantly. If it’s a reliever you just DFA Green. A lot will change with injuries and what not. However, these are things that should happen if the Yankees want to win the World Series with the best product possible on the field.
Didi Gregorius is set to return Friday, he won’t play every day. I already wrote what I think the Yankees should do in my last column. It should get interesting. I will weigh in this weekend with more on that.
Finally, I am not going to do a terrible tweet this week. I am going to admonish a whole group of Yankee fans. Clint Frazier stinks in the outfield and has cost the Yankees multiple games lately. His ducking the media after his butcher job on Sunday night was inexcusable for a Yankee. But let’s not start the “he’s a bad teammate” rhetoric even after his dumb quote about teammates making his defensive miscues sound worse when he finally spoke to reporters on Tuesday. There are photos or Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge helping his with his defense. Bad teammates don’t get helped with their game by other teammates. Clint is exactly who a lot of you tools are. A cocky 24-year-old who isn’t too mentally sharp. He had a serious injury almost take away the one thing he has known his whole life. He is an incredible talent who has to decide where his baseball career wants to go. If he can get his defense to serviceable the sky is the limit. Cut the kid some slack.