LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Begin Crucial Stretch at Fenway Tonight

Friday, July 14, 2017

Yankees Begin Crucial Stretch at Fenway Tonight

It's Friday and the break is over. Kudos to baseball for eliminating the awful idea rewarding the winning league in the  All Star Game home field advantage in the World Series. It should have never been tied to the outcome of a mid-summer exhibition game. Such utter nonsense is over, finally. Now to the things which really matter. The Yankees resume their season at Fenway tonight.

Here are a few thoughts on where the Yankees stand and what might be in their future down the stretch.

1. Since June 12, when the Yankees finished off a sweep of Baltimore and won the first game of the road trip at Anaheim, they  have played not just mediocre, but really bad baseball. Injuries played a role to be sure, but so did some awful performances at inopportune times. There's no sense rehashing all the bad. Hopefully, there is a new focus with this team, and the Yankees will be able to pick up where they left off on June 12,  not last Sunday.

2. DH Matt Holliday and 2B Starlin Castro are expected to return to the lineup in Boston this weekend. CC Sabathia recently returned from injury, so the Yankees are getting healthy again. Outfielder Aaron Hicks is still recovering from his injury and has no timetable yet for his return, but I'm guessing we won't see him until August. Clint Frazier has been a nice replacement so far. 1B Greg Bird's recovery and return is anyone's guess. Bird was apparently sighted in Staten Island working out with that Yankees affiliate. The Yankees also traded for some first base depth when they dealt reliever Tyler Webb to Milwaukee for AAA 1B Garrett Cooper on Thursday. Cooper has had some gaudy numbers at Brewers affiliate Colorado Springs in a league where such numbers are much more common than throughout the Triple A International League.

3. When the preliminary 2017 schedule was posted last year I looked at it in search of such things as that ridiculous road trip which appears sometimes more than once in a season schedule. The good news is the ridiculous road trip  was only scheduled one time in 2017, so far as I could see. The bad news is it starts tonight in Boston. So what constitutes a ridiculous road trip? Three cities and ten games played in three different time zones (now eleven with a makeup game in Boston on Sunday).  After Boston, the Yankees travel to Minnesota, then Seattle. They play the three west coast teams only once this year at their places, but have to hit the west coast twice this season, the second time to play just one west coast opponent in Seattle.

4. The Yankees are 19 and 24 on the road this season and the next eleven games are on the road. The Yankees do not return home until July 25 against Cincinnati, which is just days before the trade deadline. It is entirely possible this road trip will have a significant impact on the remainder of the season for the Yankees.

5. Speaking of the trade deadline, what will be the order of business? With the trade for a first baseman, not named Bour, Duda,  or anybody else rumored to be on the Yankees list of possible acquisitions, it would appear the Yankees will only attempt to improve their bullpen. This is especially likely now, given the Yankees used a reliever to acquire Cooper. I also cannot help but think that Brian Cashman might also find a new home for starter Michael Pineda, much like he did with Ivan Nova a year ago. The best guess here is the Yankees will trade mid level prospects for bullpen help, perhaps two relievers and will try to find a taker for soon to be free agent Pineda.

6. Beyond Pineda, I don't see the Yankees dealing any veterans, such as Brett Gardner. Yes, they might find a taker for Tyler Clippard, if they acquire bullpen help, but DFA (and subsequent release) might be more likely for him.

7. We can only hope the Yankees find their pre June 12 swagger, and that it continues to the end of the season with a spot in the playoffs. If the season fails to produce a playoff team in the Bronx, take heart Yankees fans.This season will always be remembered for the breakout performance of Aaron Judge. The Yankees are building a winner, and that winner may or may not arrive this season, Let's just see what the remainder of this season will bring and enjoy the ride.

Incredible things have already happened and we can reasonably expect a lot more in the not too distant future.

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