Yanks facing their biggest test of season
The Yankees have been playing mediocre at best baseball for quite some time now. Since July 18th when they had a 10 game division lead, they have gone a miserable 18-21 while their lead has shrunk to 3.5 games over Baltimore and 4 games over Tampa Bay. The next 10 games, 7 vs Baltimore & 3 vs TB, will tell us a lot about how good these 3 teams are and could seriously alter the standings in the Al East.
Unfortunately, the Yankess head into this stretch playing terrible baseball and without their full lineup. Injuries are never an excuse in baseball and the Yanks have done a great job filling in for much of the year. However, it appears that the injuries have finally caught up to them. Cashman & Girardi have chosen to go with veterans to fill in but now many of the backups are looking worn out and are getting exposed. Or perhaps, the league has just found their weaknesses now that they are playing expanded roles. Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley & Clay Rapada have all taken on additional playing time and responsibility and did a yeoman’s job until recently. Right now, it looks like the Yankees are an old team with far too many platoon players who have little value defensively or fundamentally.
This week’s series for Toronto was a microcosm of the team’s struggles this year. They did not execute in key situations, failed to move runners with productive outs or bunts and did not deliver with runners in scoring position. In addition their defense was shoddy with 4 errors yesterday and another 2 misplays by Andruw Jones that should have been errors. These mistakes led to 7 of Toronto’s 8 runs and allowed the Jays to win their first series in over a month. They had lost 7 in a row before coming to NY. Not the type of tune-up you’d like to see before the biggest 10-game stretch of the season.
I know the above sounds very negative but I try to be a realist and the reality is the team has played poor baseball for about 6 weeks now. However, on the bright side, they will head into this stretch with at least a 3-game lead and even with all their injuries, I still believe they are better than Baltimore and Tampa. Baltimore’s pitching is far inferior to the Yankees and while Tampa has the best pitching in baseball, their lineup is far weaker.
If the Yankees had ARod, Tex, Pettitte, Mariano & Gardner, I would have no worries at all. But they don’t. And Cashman’s attempts to bring in retreads is not working anymore. If ever a team needed a breath of fresh air and youthful excitement, it’s the Yankees. They are a slow, prodding team which doesn’t run, plays poor defense and doesn’t hit well with RISP. Their calling card is the HR which without their 2 biggest RH bats isn’t nearly as strong as it was. Say what you want about ARod & Tex but they were legit 25 & 30 HR bats, respectively. Replacing them with the likes of Laynce Nix and Steve Pearce isn’t working. This team has guys in AA & AAA right now that are hitting the shit out of the ball. They also have youthful legs and could possibly provide a jump-start to this team. With the rosters expanding on Saturday, the team can definitely use the talents of Chris Dickerson, Ronnie Mustelier, Corban Joseph, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, David Adams & Zolio Almonte.
Another arm or 2 in the bullpen is badly needed also as Joba Chamberlain continues to show he’s not ready for primetime and Cosy Eppley has been nowhere near the guy he was early in the year. perhaps it is time to give Snap-Dragon Montgomery a chance to see if his Slider will work at the MLB-level. These young guys could provide a boost to this struggling team.
Use this as your post to talk about the team and the upcoming big series with Baltimore. Is anyone else worried about this team or are you confident the Yanks can just turn it on now that they need it? How many games do they need to win out of these next 10?