The baseball regular season has sadly come to an end. My case of too much life and a little writer’s block mixed in has subsided with the fact that the New York Yankees are champions of the American League East. The Yanks will start the Division Series Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the AL Central winning Minnesota Twins. The Twinkies are the team who outhomered the Yanks on the season 309 to 308. These are not the Twins we remember as the Yanks perennial punching bag of the last 15 plus years. This will be a tough series throughout for the Bombers no matter how you look at it. Rocco Baldelli’s club plays hard, and with all that power they will be a tough out. The Yankees are better on paper, but they will have to play their best ball to advance.
I know the guys have said it on the pod. I have said it a bunch of times in this space. However it bears repeating, but that was a weird season for the Yankees. It is amazing this team was so good. The injuries were just obscene as we’ve all talked about at nauseam. More popped up this weekend as James Paxton(who has been pitching like the ace we all want him to be)left his start Friday night after 1 inning. It turned out he had some nerve issue in his left buttocks, and is expected to be fine. Then yesterday Gio Urshela hurt his ankle making an acrobatic play at 3rd base. He is also expected to be fine for Friday. Gary Sanchez returned from the Il this weekend in Texas, but Edwin Encarnacion did not. Aaron Boone reported Eddie E was still not over the “mental hurdle” of the oblique injury he suffered in Detroit on September 12. Losing Dellin Betances after he had rehabbed a lat injury all season to a torn Achilles tendon was maddening. Luis Severino made 3 starts. Giancarlo Stanton played 18 games, and so on and so on. The fact that this team won 103 games is asinine in its conception. Brian Cashman did a hell of a job assembling it, and Aaron Boone did a really good job of leading it. Credit is due when you have won your 1st division title in 7 seasons. On the other hand, they are the New York Yankees, and this fan base demands excellence. This season will be looked at negatively if a long post season run does not occur.
To close this column out I will hit on some bullet points on the Bombers.
Like him or not Aaron Boone has done an excellent job managing this team. I like him less than I did when the season started. I think his bullpen management is still iffy(although it has improved thank goodness). I am also not a fan of how he(and the organization) rests guys, especially on the road. At the same time, you have to give the guy credit as the 1st manager to win 100 games in his first 2 seasons in baseball history. He also should be lauded for how he has handled this club with all the aforementioned injuries, and adversity. Is he Connie Mack? No, but he’s not Stump Merrill either.
I am disappointed(like many fans) that after clinching the AL East the Yankees didn’t exactly put the peddle to the metal to gain the # 1 seed in the playoffs so they would have home field advantage. As a result, they will have to play a critical game 7 on the road should they meet Houston or LA in the future. This could prove to be a critical error for choosing health, and setting up their pitching over home field should they fall in the playoffs. This team is basically invincible in the Bronx(57-24)We shall see.
Encarnacion needs to be healthy, and right or the Yankees will struggle to beat Minnesota. Luke Voit ended the season in a 1 for 32 slide. You can Voit is not himself with his sports hernia injury. The Yankees should shut him down, and get him ready for next year. If he can’t hit he offers nothing of value to the ballclub. Encarnacion reminds me of David Ortiz in that he seems to play the game free, and easily mentally. He doesn’t seem to carry one at-bat to the next like many of the other Yankees do. This will be critical for a long Yankee run. The best Yankee lineup possible will be this one below IMHO.
1B DJ Lemahieu
RF Aaron Judge
2B Gleyber Torres
DH Edwin Encarnacion
LF Giancarlo Stanton
SS Didi Gregorius
C Gary Sanchez
3B Gio Urshela
CF Brett Gardner
Now the card-carrying members of the Gary Sanchez fan club will call me crazy for hitting him 7th. I just feel like you need to separate Stanton, and El Gary with a clutch bat like Didi’s(despite his own late-season funk) I expect a huge postseason out of Sir Didi
The Yankees will hold meetings this week to map out their roster for the ALDS while the team works out prior to game 1 against Minnesota Friday night. It seems the plan is to start Paxton Game 1 Friday. Sevy Game 2 Saturday, then Masahiro Tanaka(who pitched out of the pen yesterday to get his work) Monday in Minnesota. This is dead nuts right. Then it looks like a Chad Green opener if a game 4 is necessary. Although I might consider starting JA Happ and keeping him on a tight leash. I think Green would be more valuable in a power strikeout role as a fill-in for Betances as opposed to an opener, plus Happ pitched really well in September, but what do I know.
Domingo German is an absolute tool. He was going to be such a huge weapon for this team in the playoffs, and the guy gets in trouble for domestic violence. He would have more than likely started game 4. There is absolutely no place in society for people who hit women, let alone MLB. At the same time, he should be given another chance. People make mistakes. He should pay for his crime, and also get some help. I am interested to learn more when we do.
Today’s terrible tweet does to @SeanShillinsky from September 6 against the Red Sox. Sean’s quote “I still don’t get Boone’s lineups, I just don’t get it.”
The team was stifled that night by the Sox, but that’s baseball. I just don’t understand why fans haven’t figured out the lineup is all based on analytics. It is such a waste of oxygen to even complain about this stuff. Just move on, and enjoy the fact the Yankees are a great team.