Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Living in The McCarthy Era

            In a lackluster division with a lackluster roster, GM Brian Cashman did some tinkering around the trade deadline to try to squeeze as many wins as possible for 2014. For all the criticism of Cashman's winter moves such as McCann and Beltran's numbers to date, the Yankee GM should be patted on the back for a number of solid pick-ups that have come at little to no cost. The greatest so far being starter Brandon McCarthy, who was 3-10 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but since joining the Yankees is 4-0 in which the Yankees won all 5 games he pitched in.

            The 31-year old can still hit 93-94 mph on the radar gun and has found success utilizing his cutter more, which Arizona was asking him to shy away from as a means to prevent injuries (even though Mariano Rivera did it for 20 seasons with no problem). Cashman got him for Vidal Nuno straight-up, who wasn't anything special during his short tenure with the Yanks. Masahiro Tanaka is still attempting a comeback in 2014 with his blood-platelet fusion injection method to heal the partially torn tendon in his elbow and has started a throwing program, but until then, McCarthy as leaped forward as the Yankees' ace. Michael Pineda is finally starting rehab games in the minors, but pending there's no further setbacks, he's not due to rejoin the team until late August. David Phelps has also been solid in the Yankees starting rotation, but he needed the 15-day DL to deal with inflammation in his right elbow that had been bothering him for several weeks. The Yankees somehow still find a way to compete with a rotation that now looks like: McCarthy(recent trade), Green(rookie call-up), Kuroda (original starter- shocker!!), Chris Capuano (recent trade), and #5 Starter (yet to be determined, probably Chase Whitley).

            It's close to crazy how the Yankees are keeping afloat with the final Wild Card spot just an inch away and only 5 games behind the AL East leading Orioles for the division. What has kept the Yankee season from completely falling off the tracks has been these bargain additions throughout the season and the bullpen (mainly the Betances-Robertson duo) which doesn't give away whatever leads the offense is able to scratch across.

            Though its a far cry from the offense that was imagined in Spring Training, a few Cashman thrifty moves, Carlos Beltran finally waking up this season, and Brett Gardner being as hot as any hitter in baseball; the lineup has finally developed a personality that has been lacking the entire season. In a barrage of homeruns in recent weeks, Brett Gardner is now up to 15 after hitting 8 all of last season, and how good does it look that Cashman didn't trade him for Brandon Philips in January and instead gave him a four-year contract to stay in pinstripes. Mark Teixeira still crops up with aches and pains, and most recently dizziness, but when he's in the lineup, he hits homers. Third base has been a fiasco all season for the Yankees, so Cashman locked in down by bringing in former superstar Chase Headley from San Diego for Solarate, who stopped hitting after a fantasy book start to the season. Headley may not hit as he once did, but he's a former Gold Glover who can still field, which is a breath of fresh air from all the errors the Yankees were committing at that position. In addition, Cashman tapped the rival Boston Red Sox on the shoulder to pick up Steven Drew for the atrocious Kelly Johnson, who will be the new second baseman moving forward in place of the recently-release Brian Roberts. They rode Roberts for longer than anyone thought, but the lack of production was dragging the rest of the lineup down and Cashman needed to upgrade the position with more offensive capabilities. With another delivery from Arizona in the form of Martin Prado, who can play multi-positions that will give Girardi more flexibility, the Yankees have found themselves a lineup (only took five months to find it).

            Tampa Bay basically waived the white flag for this season by dealing off their lefty ace David Price in a three-way trade to Detroit and Boston completely cleaned house with shipping out the aforementioned Drew, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Andrew Miller. Though these two teams would like nothing more than to keep the Yankees out of the postseason, there's no denying the fact with plenty of games still to go against these AL East foes, the Yankees path to the postseason certainly got a little easier.

Position: 58-53 (3rd Place AL East - 5 games behind 1st Place Baltimore Orioles

- Brett Gardner continues to be 'pound-for-pound' the Yankees best player in 2014 and has already cranked out 15 homeruns by early August (who saw that coming?)
- Brandon McCarthy has emerged as the Yankees best starter with a 4-0 record since joining the Bombers.
- Carlos Beltran seems to have gotten over the sore elbow and hitting funk he was in and is driving the ball with more authority.
- Brian Cashman has added pop to the desperate Yankee infield and solidified defense at third base with the additions of Steven Drew and Chase Headley.

Foul Tips:
- Ichiro's power has been pitiful with only 1 homerun to show.
- Derek Jeter has raised the batting average to the .280 land, but clearly he's getting out of the game before things take an ugly turn in the stats department.
- David Robertson's last two save opportunities have been adventurous to say the least. Can't complain with him being 28 for 30 in save opportunities, but perhaps some late-season fatigue is coming about.
- Zealous Wheeler has been a butcher at third base, hence the trade to bring in Headley.
- Tanaka is attempting to pitch again this season, but its risking the loss of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, plus who knows if he could be as strong as he was before the tear.

- Matt Thornton was put on waivers and claimed by Washington in a mysterious cash dump with the Yankees having no other experienced lefty-specialist out of the pen. Was it a money thing with the Yanks owing him $3 million next season or was something else afloat. A very odd move on Cashman's part.

           Brian Cashman has done a considerably well job in re-tooling the roster and with the AL East having no real powerhouse, there's still a chance for the Yankees to snatch the division, or at the very least, compete for that final Wild Card spot till the end of the season. With so many teams still in the hunt, and a fresh set of names linked to PEDs from the Anthony Bosch Biogeneis crew to be released, baseball is coming to an exciting stretch run.

       The Yankee starting pitching might wear out sooner or later, but the offense is beginning to look promising, so maybe they can carry the ball for a while....