LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees' Recent Struggles Bring About a Reality Check

Friday, August 4, 2017

Yankees' Recent Struggles Bring About a Reality Check

I think I spend too much time on social media. I notice that, when things go bad for the Yankees, many people simply go berserk. Maybe it's time for us Yankees fans to get real. It is just a matter of figuring the reality of this season, which is no easy task. Here is my attempt get hold of this reality facing the 2017 Yankees down the stretch.

Reality One: The Yankees lost their third game in a row Thursday night. Sonny Gray's Yankees debut got off to a bad start with three Yankees errors and two unearned runs in the first inning. Grey finally gave up two more runs, both earned  in six innings of work. But the Yankees offense sputtered to the tune of three hits, one of which was Gary Sanchez's 17th home run. Cleveland starter Corey Kluber pitched a complete game for the win, which is a rare accomplishment these days.

Reality Two: Aaron Judge was benched Thursday night because he is simply not hitting. Oh sure, blame it all on the home run derby. Yes, prior to the all star break, Judge was flirting with triple crown numbers. Judge is now batting below .300 and the strikeouts are mounting. No, I don't know what has happened. Maybe it is just a case of a young and talented player showing some inexperience.

I remember Bobby Murcer in 1969, which was his first full season as an everyday player. Murcer got off to a great start and by the end of May was possibly the best player in the game, and his picture was on the cover The Sporting News. Murcer struggled the rest of the '69 season and finished hitting .259, then dropped to .251 in 1970 for a Yankees team which won 93 games. It wasn't until the '71 season that Bobby hit his stride batting .331 for that season. Murcer had three great years in the Bronx, but the fourth season, 1974 was played in Queens and Murcer struggled and wound up getting traded to the Giants after the season. The reality is Aaron Judge may not be ready to carry the team on his back yet. Still, he is a very good player and should have a great career. Just saying.

Reality Three: We're back to blaming Joe Girardi, on some fan sites, at least. Joe and his binder isn't getting it done and that binder is responsible for umpteen losses. I wrote about Girardi, or "Clueless Joe" according to some fans, just a couple of weeks ago. Yes, managers eventually get ousted.  Joe's contract expires at the end of this season and it is possible, but not likely, this is the end.

Many among us think we can manage better than Joe. Maybe in commenting on Joe Girardi as a manager we should first consider the fact he has managed this team into ten seasons, and one more (likely) extension will probably place him second on all time seasons managing the club behind only the legendary Joe McCarthy. Joe will be gone some day, guaranteed, but in the meantime his record as a manager deserves some respect.

Reality Four: The Yankees might not win the World Series or even make the playoffs. Let's at least consider that possibility. Some fans who post on the various blogs would consider this negative thinking and that's not allowed according to some of the administrators of these sites. Well, I'm here to tell you stranger things have happened. In 1973 the Yankees made the cover of Sports Illustrated in June and were in first place in July, but the long season caught up to that team and the Yankees finished with an 80-82 record and a 4th place finish. But they also had the core players like Musnon, Nettles and Lyle who would help deliver a championship in just a few short years.

We can start naming some of the new core players who have arrived and plenty more are on the way. And no, this is not to suggest this Yankees team will fall below .500 this year.

Reality Five: Brian Cashman, in trading prospects for a run at the post season, did no harm to the Yankees future. Cashman did acquire pure rental players, Todd Frazier and Jamie Garcia but also added pitchers who strengthened the rotation beyond this season (Gray) and solid bullpen pieces beyond this season (David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle) The Yankees acquired organizational depth and talent at the 2016 deadline, and Cashman's  job this season is to move some players out of the organization, as not all will fit on the 40 man roster. Plus, the rule five draft looms every December. Kudos to Cash for his recent moves.

Reality Six: The Yankees are on the right track. Most of their top prospects are still on the roster of a Yankees farm team, or have already arrived in the Bronx. Now the speculation can resume: when will the likes of Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo arrive in the Bronx? 

Reality Seven: Aaron Hicks is playing at AAA and should be activated in the very near future. The Yankees offense could use his help. The Yankees also expect other injured players to return this season, including Starlin Castro, Tyler Austin and Greg Bird. 

So the Yankees are still in the post season race until further notice, which is good news. Many of us have been a little unnerved by the roller coaster season which this has become. Some fans react with negative commentary. Some have suggested these commenters are not real fans. My response is we should consider everyone on these sites as a fan. In reality it is the only way to be. We all cope with difficult times differently. Watching this team lose is not fun. The real fun is just around the corner, perhaps even this season. 

The sooner the better. 

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