Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Reviewing The Yankees' Options To Improve The Offense

(This guy sucks.  Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

The Yankees lost for the 7th time in their last 9 game last night, and they lost again primarily because their lineup simply can't score.  They're the Beavis and Butthead of offensive production, and at the halfway point of the regular season it's no longer a matter of waiting for guys to get healthy, get comfortable, or "come around".  It's a huge problem, one that's been the biggest reason why this team is floundering around the .500 mark with one of the worst run differentials in MLB and one that needs to be addressed immediately.

Up to now, Joe has been hesitant to do too much with the lineup.  The last move of significance he made was demoting Alfonso Soriano to the bench and that happened weeks ago.  The front office has also been hesitant to make any moves, be they of the "shakeup" variety or the variety that actually helps improve the team.  There have been plenty of suggestions over the past few weeks as to what can be done to help get the offense going and both Joe and Cash have plenty of options in front of them should they decide to stop doing nothing.  With the trade deadline drawing closer every day and the postseason race about to really begin, here's a quick recap of the paths that can be taken to try to generate more offense.

Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: Heavy Workload Starting To Take Its Toll?

Tough go for Adam Warren and Dellin Betances last night.  They combined for 2 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, and only 1 strikeout from the top of the 6th to the top of the 8th.  Each of them failed to finish off the innings they started cleanly after getting 2 outs, and overall they allowed 5 of the 11 batters they faced to reach base.  Workload has been a big concern for these 2 for a while now, and in late June the signs of that heavy workload catching up to them started to show:

Warren May- 16.2 IP, 1.62 ERA, 1.78 FIP, 4 BB, 17 K
Warren June- 12.2 IP, 4.97 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 5 BB, 12 K

Betances May- 17.1 IP, 1.04 ERA, 0.96 FIP, 2 BB, 28 K
Betances June- 17.1 IP, 1.56 ERA, 1.60 FIP, 7 BB, 25 K

The splits aren't as drastic with Betances, but both he and Warren took a statistical step back in June from the complete and utter dominance they displayed in May.  There is the normalization factor to consider here as a grain of salt.  There was no way they were going to keep up May's level of performance for the rest of the season no matter what their workload was.  Joe's decision to be more judicious with how he uses them coupled with the change in eye test, however, suggests this is more than just a natural statistical regression.  Both guys have had to labor more in their recent appearances and their command has not been as spot on as it was earlier.  Their performance for the first few weeks of July is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Game 81 Wrap-Up: TB 4 NYY 3

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

81 games.  The halfway point of the regular season.  It sounds cliche, but I really can't believe we're here already.  It doesn't seem like it was all that long ago that we were salivating over Pineda and Tanaka's early starts, and in reality it's been almost 3 months since then.  The Yankees came into last night's series opener against Tampa 2 games over .500, so there was no way they could finish the first half of the season with a losing record.  But when Brian Cashman described them as "fortunate" to be where they are, he hit the nail on the head.  This was not a .500 team let alone a team 2 games over .500, and if the Yanks were going to hang around in the playoff race in the 2nd half, they needed to start playing better and soon.

Game Notes:

- For whatever reason, David Phelps appears to be incapable of not grooving fastballs over the heart of the plate.  The first one he threw last night turned into a Matt Joyce solo HR in the 1st and the second was another dinger off the bat of Kevin Kiermaier in the 3rd.

- Chris Archer made a mistake hitting Ichiro to lead off the bottom of the 3rd and it bit him when Brett Gardner laced a triple down the right field line to score 1 run and came in on Derek Jeter's groundout to tie the game.

- Phelps put up a couple zeros after the early long ball problems, but in typical Phelps fashion he was hardly a model of efficiency.  He had to battle to finish off hitters, he threw a lot of pitches (101), and he was done with 2 outs in the 6th.

- Joe went to Adam Warren to finish off that inning, which he did in short order.  The 7th was a different story, when he lost his command and loaded the bases on a hit and 2 walks.  2 more walks by Dellin Betances in the 8th came back to haunt on a 2-out go-ahead single by Ryan Hanigan.

- Wasn't much doing for the Yanks post-3rd inning.  They stranded 2 runners in the 6th and in the 8th when Brandon Guyer botched a Brian McCann bloop to put runners on the corners.

- They saved the breakout for the bottom of the 9th, when Brian Roberts won a long 1-out battle with Joel Peralta and golfed a 3-2 pitch into right-center for a game-tying home run.  They stranded a leadoff single in the 10th, however, and that was the last chance they'd get.

- Joe was down to his bullpen B-team by the time the 12th inning rolled around.  Jose Ramirez got the call then and gave up a walk, stolen base, and RBI single to Logan Forsythe to seal the win for Tampa.