Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Morning Musings After A Week Off

(Originally posted at IIATMS/TYA)

I got to watch the Germany-Brazil World Cup semifinal match on Tuesday in Germany at an outdoor hotel bar surrounded by German people.  Say what you want about the sport itself, but soccer fans are easily the most passionate, energetic sports fans in the world.  The amount of celebrating that was going on in the streets of Hannover after the game was similar to what we see in the US when major colleges win their football or basketball national championships.  And this game wasn't even for a championship.  Soccer people just LOVE them some soccer.  I can't think of a time in the last 5 years when a Yankee Stadium environment was even close to half as crazy as that scene.

Not that the Yankees have given the fans much reason to cheer this season.  Or last.  They've been just as bad and almost as boring as last year's team, and they figure to get more boring in the second half now that Masahiro Tanaka is on the DL.  I love blogging about the Yankees and getting a chance to write something outside of the normal business tone, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't glad to have a week off from this last week.  This whole organization has stagnated to such a degree that it's hard to muster up the energy to get mad when they lose or get too happy when they win anymore.

Now that I've had a chance to get back home, recharge, and catch up on everything I've missed, here are some hot takes on the Yanks and their position in the AL as they stumble into the All-Star break.

Severino And O'Brien Do What They Do In The Futures Game

The MLB Futures Game kicked off All-Star Week yesterday, and the Yankees were represented by a pair of prospects.  Luis Severino from High-A Tampa and Peter O'Brien from Double-A Trenton were the reps, playing for the World and USA teams respectively.  In their first performances on a big national stage, each displayed in a small sample size their calling cards as prospects.

Severino was the 4th World pitcher to enter the game and he worked a scoreless inning in the 4th, allowing 1 base hit and striking a batter out.  The strikeout victim was Joey Gallo, baseball HR leader and eventual game MVP, and Keith Law had Severino sitting 93-95 with his fastball.  O'Brien went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts, a somewhat expected result given his free-swinging tendencies.  Against the best pitchers the Minors have to offer, it's understandable that those skills overshadowed his high power potential.

All in all, not a bad night for the Yankee system in the Futures Game.  Just the fact that they got 2 reps for the first time in a few years is a step in the right direction for the organization.

Game 94 Wrap-Up: BAL 3 NYY 1

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

Saturday's win guaranteed the Yankees at least a .500 record at the All Star break this year.  I have to imagine they were hoping for and expecting much better than that when they dropped their half billion dollars this past offseason, but underperformance and another rash of serious injuries to major contributors have combined to keep that from happening.  The truth of the matter is that the Yankees are lucky to be where they are right now, and a road win against the Orioles to give the them the series and send them into the ASB with consecutive would have been a nice morale boost.  Instead, they got treated to a rain-shortened loss to send them into the break bumming.

Game Notes:

- Kevin Gausman is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball for a reason, but he made a classic rookie mistake throwing Brett Gardner 4 straight fastballs to open the game last night.  Gardner smacked the 4th one for a leadoff home run to right to get the Yanks on the board quickly.

- Chase Whitley looked pretty good making that stand up through 3 innings.  He was making pitches and getting outs when he needed to and getting swings and misses on his offspeed stuff.

- When the heart of the order got their second look at him in the 4th, things changed.  Nelson Cruz drew a 5-pitch walk to lead it off, Chris David crushed a 2-run home run the opposite way to give Baltimore the lead (on a pretty good pitch down and in), and JJ Hardy doubled off the wall to left.  Whitley got the next 2 outs, but couldn't keep the 3rd run from scoring and saw his night end before the 4th was over.

- Not much happened in the top of the 5th and then the rains came to delay the game.  The initial estimate was only a 30-minute storm, but that extended into 2+ hours and the teams agreed to call it a day.  Pretty fitting ending to the Yankees' first half.