Saturday, February 21, 2015

Let's talk about Masahiro Tanaka.

"If you thought this Yankee spring training was going to be all about Alex Rodriguez, Friday’s first managerial press conference of the new year offered proof that not even the specter of A-Rod’s return to baseball outranks the significance of Masahiro Tanaka’s damaged elbow ligament."

Anyone who reads the Daily news thinks Yankee spring training is going all about Alex Rodriguez.

"OK, let’s not kid anyone. The reality-show quotient will dominate the headlines and video clips, in part because A-Rod is more Kardashian than ballplayer at this point, and in part because the Yankees have little else in the way of compelling star power these days.

So, yes, Joe Girardi answered his share of A-Rod questions on Friday, making a point of saying the media-circus factor will be a good baptism for the many newcomers to this team, an instant test of the 'thick skin' the manager believes it takes to thrive in New York."

The headline said something about Tanaka.

"And no doubt those questions will multiply next week when Rodriguez shows up with the rest of the position players, but even then the issue will be more about the spectacle he brings than any true impact he has on getting the Yankees back to the playoffs."

No doubt.

"After all, if Girardi or any of the organization’s decision-makers were to be completely honest about their expectations, they’d almost surely tell you they expect Garrett Jones to get more at-bats in the DH spot than A-Rod."

When Girardi shockingly said that ARod had to earn his at-bats ... isn't that the same as every other player? The Jeter Farewell Tour to the contrary, of course.

Garret Jones isn't Edgar Martinez. Chase Headley isn't George Brett. Forty-year-old washed-up ARod will probably fit right in on an awful offensive team.

I would love it if ARod was forced to the bench not because of his own ineptitude, but because some replacement surprised me with an .900 OPS.

"Until further notice, then, the Yankee brain trust will be observing Tanaka far more intently in the coming weeks."


Not a great segue, but you finally got to the subject matter that drove me to click on the link.

"And with that in mind, it was at least somewhat revealing that Girardi, ever upbeat when discussing all things Yankees, spoke about Tanaka on Friday with what could be best described as cautious optimism."

Girardi at his most effervescent could be described graciously as cautiously optimistic.

" 'I feel it’s healed,' he said. 'I’m confident I can get through the season.'

Even that answer, if interpreted accurately, reflects some sense of the season as a minefield, with the potential for explosion with every start.

And because the Yankees chose not to spend any more on high-end pitching this winter, a healthy Tanaka is crucial to their hopes of playing October baseball again for the first time since 2012.

Which is why there were more questions for Girardi on Friday about his ace than his three-time MVP. The impending A-Rod reality show, after all, is likely to have far more drama than Tanaka-like significance."

I mean, yeah, obviously. Tanaka is the best player on the Yankees. If healthy, he may be one of the best pitchers in the American League. If he had stayed healthy last season, the garbage Yankees would have made the playoffs.

Every game is a minefield for every player. Old players might stay healthy, young players might get hurt. 

My expectation? He'll probably pitch great and stay healthy. Then shut it down in mid-August because the team is 20 games out of first place.

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