I had previously gave report card grades to all the Yankees players, so this time I’m going to tackle the team in general, and will attempt to answer the question that many Yankees fans and casual fans (Tim McCarver and Joe Buck will tell certain mention it Tuesday) are asking: “Why do the Yankees suck this year?”
Here are the Top 6 Reasons why the Yankees are not in 1st place
The infamous Disabled List has claimed time with a lot of Yankees this year, including such players as Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Chien-Ming Wang, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Phil Hughes, Brian Bruney, Ian Kennedy, Wilson Betemit, Chris Britton, and Jonathan Albaladejo.
Additionally, Derek Jeter has been battling nagging injuries all year, missed a few games, and Jason Giambi has been hit by pitch more than anyone on the team.
Quite honestly, with the Yankees being 6 games out at the All-Star break, it could be argued that the missing time and injuries could be the ONLY reason why the Yankees have not reached their potential this year.
2) Run production down
There are 14 teams in the American League. The Yankees rank 7th in runs scored, 11th in hitting with Runners on 2nd or 3rd (yet 3rd with Runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs), 8th in HR, and 3rd in on-base-percentage. As much as it was obvious that the Yanks would have major issues scoring when they lost both A-Rod and Jorge at the same time for weeks in April, the offense has been inconsistent when the lineup was stacked.
Now, Giambi, Damon, and Matsui have done well with runners in scoring position (Abreu has does well with 2 outs only), but Jeter, Cano, A-Rod, Jorge, and the rest have had sub par 1st half. Anyone who follows the Yanks on an everyday basis has seen this team be 1) inconsistent 2) vulnerable against lefties 3) not go deep into counts as previous years 4) get KO’ed early in the game, and not mount a comeback 5) hot one day and cold the next day 6) be overpowered by questionable pitchers and 7) lie down when they face a true ace. Why? Are they pressing too much? Random? Bad coaching? Not motivated? False sense of security? It can’t be proven either way…
3) Starting pitching bombed
Phil Hughes (due to injuries) and Ian Kennedy (due to psychology and injuries) went 0-April. Chien Ming Wang went down with a major injury. Darrell Rasner is an experiment. Joba Chamberlain is working on his stamina and trying to conserve his pitches. Sidney Ponson is in the rotation. We thankfully won’t be seeing Kei Igawa anymore. Andy Pettitte has been brilliant and frustrating at the same time. Mike Mussina, who seemed to have been brought back this year as charity, has been the ace. The Yanks are 7th in AL ERA.
4) No Bench
Shelley Duncan turned into a por man’s Kevin Maas. Jose Molina and Chad Moeller are great defensive catchers, and get the memorable double every once in a while, but their batting averages and on-base percentages are embarrassing. Wilson Betemit hasn’t put anything together these last 2 years besides an occassional HR. Justin Christian looks like AAA OF filler. Utlility infielder Alberto Gonzales, who gets sent up and down from AAA all the time, can’t really hit yet.
Since Brian Cashman doesn’t appear to be willing to make a big trade, one can hope he would at least get the Yanks some more depth- a utility infielder that can hit and a backup 1B would help.
5) It took a while for Joe Girardi to set bullpen roles
The Yankees bullpen has been the most consistent element of the team, and have been the team’s unsung heroes. However, earlier in the season Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins could not get anyone out and were used too much, Billy Traber wasn’t effective, Ross Ohlendorf appeared in many games and gave up a boatload of runs- mostly in mopup duty, but he was also given a shot and blew it, while Edwar Ramirez- who has shown he is excellent- wasn’t even on the team. Right now it looks like Ramirez has dibs on the 6th or 7th innings, Jose Veras has the 7th and/or 8th, Kyle has the 8th, and Mariano Rivera has the 9th. Everyone else on the team fills in when needed.
I want to note that Girardi was under a lot of heat for moving Joba from the bullpen to the starting rotation last month, but I have no problem with that at all. Joba wasn’t getting any opportunities setting up, and besides, the Yankees bullpen is fine. I have a feeling once Joba gets his stamina set, he will be the ace in the second half, along with Andy.
6) The Tampa Bay Rays are the best team in baseball, remember?
Looking ahead to the second half
True Yankees fans are frustrated, angry, confused, and some have lost hope. So…should Yankees fans have faith for a Wild Card berth or the AL East?
Here are the Top 5 Reasons why the Yankees will be in the post-season
1) The Tampa Bay Rays will be unable to remain in 1st place. Last year they had the worst defensive team in baseball (and one of the worst pitching staffs). This year, they have the best defensive team and one of the best pitching staffs. Such a huge change like that doesn’t happen because a bunch of coaches think their players have “learned the right way to play the game”. It’s more likely that this is a fluke, and that the defense and pitching will regress to the mean, along with the Rays win-loss record.
The Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s are ahead of the Yanks in the Wild Card. The A’s front office has already put up the white flag. The Twins lost Johan Santana in the winter, and are still a punch-and-Judy team.
As much as Bud Selig hates it, when everything is said and done, it WILL come down to the Yankees and Red Sox again, and it is very likely one team will win the Wild Card, and the other will win the AL East.
2) Guys who sucked in the 1st half will do better in the 2nd half, and get closer to their career averages. As John Sterling likes to say, “There are a lot of hits left in Robinson Cano’s bat”. In other words, the offense should be a lot better in the 2nd half. Cashman should probably make a trade if Godzilla and/or Damon are going to miss a lot of time. As much as I like Brett Gardner, it is asking a lot from a light-hitting rookie to replace Damon and Godzilla. Brett is a superb 4th outfielder.
3) Guys will come off the DL. At the risk of sounding like an optimist, here are some facts for you to eat: Phil Hughes will be coming back, and he will be great. Wang is looking forward to pitching in September and October. Brian Bruney was having one of the best years of any relief pitcher in the game before he got hurt, and he’ll be back in a month or less. In other words, the pitching will be very deep come September and October. You also have to think Damon or Hideki will return one of these days.
4) Mariano Rivera. ’nuff said.
5) The Yanks are 5 games better this year than last. And although batters in 2008 have been injury prone and inconsisent in the clutch, they will get hot soon. I believe Moose, Andy, and Joba will give the Yanks a chance to win every time out, and that the bullpen can take care of games that Rasner and Ponson can’t get deep into. Pretty soon, assuming Cashman doesn’t trade for a starter, we will see Rasner and Ponson getting phased out by Hughes, Wang, or even Carl Pavano. Joba is going to be a Josh Beckett-type stud in September. Rasner could be a great long man or spot starter then.
- Why the 2008 Yankees are set
- Jorge Posada attacks Pudge Rodriguez and Joba
- Yankees wins and loses breakdown
- Joba Chamberlain Knows His Role
- Secret Confessions from a Yankees Fan (2010)
- 2009 Yankees pitching
- Robinson Cano Walk-Off HR in 10th
- 2009-2010 Yankees Free Agents
- Mariners salvage last game of Yankees series
- Game 63: Yankees Abreu and Giambi beat Royals…again
- Joba Chamberlain DUI court sentence
- Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi on 2010 Yankees
- Game 96: Cano powers Yankees over A’s
- Game 57: Twins beat Farnsworth and Yankees, 6-5
- Game 6: Wang, Joba, Mo beat Rays
- The 2012 Yankees at the All-Star Break Report
- Game 68: Joba solid in 2-1 Yanks win over Astros
- Diamond Mind Baseball: 2008 Yankees April
- Yankees 2009 Starting Rotation
- 2010 Yankees Mid-Season Report Card (All-Star Break)