Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New York Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka calmly handles another test

When the New York Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year $155 million contract in addition to spending $20 million for the posting fee, the talk around baseball was of course how his talent would translate to playing in the major leagues. Four starts into his MLB career and the talk could soon turn to whether he can be one of the best transports from Japan to ever take the mound.

Tanaka passed yet another test Tuesday night working 7.1 innings of two-run ball in the Yankees 9-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Tanaka calmly brushed off back-to-back home runs to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, and was otherwise stingy and displayed his filthy splitter to baffle hitters throughout the lineup.

Across 29.1 innings (yes an extremely small sample size) Tanaka has delivered as advertised. He’ll likely have mishaps along the way in his inaugural MLB season, but there is one thing that should make Yankees fans particularly happy and that is Tanaka’s ability to shake off a bad inning or stretch of batters.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New York Yankees looking to build on fine start

The New York Yankees began the season with several question marks. Some have been answered and others are still unknown. There have been pleasant surprises and some not-so-pleasant results. Most importantly, as the Yankees enter their first series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park this season, the club sits all alone in first place.

Masahiro Tanaka gets the start against Jon Lester Tuesday night in what looks like a fantastic matchup on paper. Tanaka has yet to see the Red Sox from the mound, giving the 25-year-old hurler a slight advantage.

Tanaka has managed to produce results potentially above some expectations despite his lofty resume from his playing days in Japan. Tanaka owns a 2-0 record with a 2.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and has struck out 28 batters in 22 innings. He has allowed just two walks.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New York Yankees: Brian McCann’s offensive slump overshadows work behind plate

The New York Yankees suffered a tough loss Wednesday night to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 5-4. Catcher Brian McCann continued to slump at the plate and received a brunt of the blame from the fans in the stands and via social media.

There were plenty of scoring opportunities along the way that went by the wayside of which McCann seemed to be a part.

McCann signed a five-year, $85 million contract in the offseason and the main component fans saw was that he’s a 20+ home run hitter. Indeed McCann possesses very good power and of course any strong lefty hitter coming to the Stadium is going to be perceived to get a boost in the home run department.

Thus far, McCann is 5-for-33 (.328 OPS) on the young season and he’s already feeling the wrath of the fans. I get it; there is a lot of money invested in McCann and fans want/expect to see immediate results. What is going unnoticed thus far is that McCann has been contributing behind the plate. It’s a measure of his value to the Yankees that is unsung by many fans.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yankees must resist signing free-agent reliever

One week into the regular season and the New York Yankees are without their newly appointed closer David Robertson. It is the second time that Robertson was elevated to the role before quickly suffering an injury forcing him to the disabled list. The Yankees will automatically be linked to any number of free-agent relievers looking for a roster spot. They should avoid the temptation of “experience,” turn their attention toward their own roster and let their talent blossom.

First, Robertson’s injury is not all that serious. He suffered a grade-one strain of the groin and anticipates the minimum time served on the DL. The concern for some is not just about the immediate future, but this bullpen was considered suspect prior to Robertson’s ailment. The Yankees should not make decisions based on the chance that the experiment could fail, certainly not eight games into the season.