An uneven season leaves Yankees with similar issues for 2016

Christopher Carelli

As the dust settled on a short-lived postseason appearance, the New York Yankees can take some solace in their 2015 campaign, with an eye to an uncertain future.

Picked by many to finish near the bottom of the American League East, the Yankees had various issues to overcome and in the beginning of the season it seemed that they might succeed. But, as was the theme for every facet of the game and for individual player performances; with every positive occurrence, a negative one counteracted. There was never a stretch where everything and everyone clicked for the Yankees in 2015.

USATSI_8510009_110579513_lowresHealth was on the Yankees side very early on, but slowly began to affect the club. Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda all hit the disabled list before the All-Star break. The club reached the summer very much intact, but season-ending injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Mark Teixeira had significant impacts on the club’s finish.

There were players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Teixeira looking for bounce back performances from 2014’s results. Even more anticipated was the comeback by Alex Rodriguez from his 17-month layoff due to a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Rodriguez, like McCann and Teixeira, proved to be ready to lead the Yankees beyond expectations. Beltran stumbled out of the gate, but was the club’s most consistent hitter from May 1 on.

The Yankees made two mid-level trades in the preceding offseason which looked to be problematic in the season’s opening months. Eovaldi and Didi Gregorius had a rough time getting acclimated to playing in New York.

Eovaldi spent much of spring training working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on the pitcher’s ancillary offerings to go along with his power fastball. It took a couple of months of inconsistency with the turning point being a miserable outing in which he allowed eight runs in two-thirds of an inning. After the implosion, Eovaldi went on an impressive run which planted him atop the rotation.

Meanwhile, Gregorius, touted as a defense-first shortstop with some upside at the plate, scuffled terribly on all fronts; possibly trying to accomplish too much as replacement to the iconic Derek Jeter. Gregorius made mental errors on the bases and physical errors in the field, and he couldn’t hit a lick.

After about a month, Gregorius began to settle in at shortstop, making plays Jeter hadn’t in years. Slowly, Gregorius began to warm up at the plate, and after the All-Star break Gregorius went on a tear, finishing the season with respectable offensive numbers in his first full major league season. To read more of this story, click here

Oct 4, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Cashman says Girardi’s job is safe

GM Brian Cashman said manager Joe Girardi‘s job is not in jeopardy after the Yankees’ loss in the American League Wild Card game on Tuesday (Oct. 8).

“He is signed for two more years and managed the team to the playoffs,” Cashman said. “It’s not his fault we didn’t hit. He managed a perfect playoff game.”

The Yankees went 87-75 and returned to the postseason for the first time since 2012. However, in his eighth season as Yankees manager, Girardi has a 735-561 record and has won just one World Series title.

“It’s a fact, nobody should be looking for anybody different,” Cashman said.

Girardi, 51, has two years and $8 million remaining on his contract. Cashman said he will evaluate Girardi’s coaching staff with him and the rest of the front office.

“Since you live through it for six months you have a pretty good feel about everything,’’ Cashman said. “Now is the time to have these conversations. You live and you know it and you have a feel for what you might want to do with it as you move forward. Those conversations take place with your manager, take place with your coaches and take place with ownership.’’

Christopher Carelli

Cashman’s comments on Girardi’s job safety are not surprising. The Yankees skipper had his share of head-scratching moments, but he was also able to lead a mix of aging (and often injured) veterans with a group of surprising young players to a record beyond expectations resulting in a postseason appearance.

Girardi made a multitude of poor decisions in my view with the bullpen this season, which in years past was his strongest area as manager. There were several games in which Girardi brought his best relievers – Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller – into games with large leads which in the short term rendered them unavailable in close games the next day and in the long term robbed them of energy down the stretch. Girardi seemed to manage the bullpen scared; following the notion that he had to win every game with his top three guys on the mound, or else they might lose.

On the flip side, Girardi was very good at maximizing his veteran positional players’ time on the field. Girardi didn’t allow Alex Rodriguez to play in the field once it was clear he no longer had the appropriate range and further made certain that A-Rod received plenty of rest along the way. Girardi trusted backup players to time on the field in order to get Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran days away from the field as well and it assisted each of them to bounce back seasons. To read more of this story, click here


In case you missed it on Wednesday

The Yankees plan to tender the contract of Ivan Nova, who is eligible for arbitration (Oct. 7).

Dellin Betances, who dominated with a 1.12 ERA at one point in August, struggled as the season moved into September (Oct. 7).

The Yankees have not won a playoff game since Derek Jeter went down to injury in the 2012 postseason (Oct. 7).

GM Brian Cashman talked about the Yankees’ “disappointing” 2015 season (Oct. 7).


Yankees plan to tender contract to Nova

The Yankees are planning to tender a contract to Ivan Nova, who is arbitration-eligible, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Oct. 7).

Nova, who made $3.3 million this season, is entering his final year of arbitration. He is eligible for free agency after next season.

Nova, 28, returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of June.

Overall this season, Nova went 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA and 1.40 WHIP while striking out 63 batters in 94 innings (17 starts).

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

Yankees have not led in a playoff game since Jeter’s injury

The Yankees still have not led in a postseason game since Derek Jeter sprawled in the dirt three years ago, screaming in pain from a broken ankle.

A season-ending 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros in the winner-take-all AL wild-card game on Tuesday night should not have been a surprise. The 2015 Yankees overachieved just by reaching the postseason.

A seven-game lead in the AL East in late July caused the Yankees to think they could be a great team. That was forgotten during a slide that ended with an 85-75 record, a six-game deficit behind Toronto and a second-place finish.

“The wheels were flying off as the season went on,” general manager Brian Cashman said outside the quiet clubhouse. “The longer it went, for some reason, the worse we started to get. Obviously, we lost some key guys, but also some guys just did not play the way they are capable of playing.”

Read more…

Oct 6, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) throws against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in the American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Betances struggled toward end of season

Yankees RHP Dellin Betances, who logged the most innings among all MLB relievers this season — and perhaps had to battle fatigue down the stretch — gave up one run, one hit and one walk in 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday night.

While the Yankees’ offense generated just three singles in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Astros in the AL Wild Card game, Betances quickly allowed one run in the seventh inning starting with a walk to Chris Carter. Pinch runner Jonathan Villar stole second base and scored on Jose Altuve’s single to left.

“I felt like I went out there and competed,” Betances, who struck out four batters, said. “Obviously I walked the leadoff guy and you don’t want to do that, but I don’t know how Altuve hit that ball, that was a perfect pitch for me.”

While Betances led all relievers with 84 innings pitched and 131 strikeouts, he struggled as the season went on.

He had a 1.12 ERA and held opponents to a .125 batting average through his first 56 appearances, striking out 101 batters in 64 innings.

However, he recorded a 2.70 ERA from Aug. 22 until the end of the regular season, allowing six runs, 18 hits and 14 walks over his last 20 innings. Opponents hit .254 against him in that span.

“I had my share of problems here at the end, but I thought I was able to figure it out the last week or so,” Betances said. “I guess for me it’s time to rest now, but I wanted to keep going obviously. It’s tough, really tough.”


Quote: Girardi on ‘disappointing’ 2015 season

USATSI_8845220_110579513_lowres“It’s really disappointing. It’s hard. You know, seasons end abruptly and it’s very difficult. This is a club that fought all year long, and there’s a lot of character in that room, and this hurts.

And we just didn’t get it done.”

-Yankees manager Joe Girardi on their 2015 season