This is not how it was supposed to go. The Yankees had a tough stretch of games against the Red Sox and Mets, but were rewarded with back to back series against bad NL teams. The Nationals have a chance to set the all time futility record and the Marlins…well, the left side of the Yankees infield makes more money than the entire Florida roster. These six games were supposed to yield at least four easy wins. Instead, the Yankees lost four of six, and face an ever-growing deficit (four games) in the American League East.
Folks, the Red Sox aren’t going away. In fact, they may get even better. David Ortiz is actually hitting the ball (you can thank “eye drops” and the Yankees for re-energizing the reincarnation of Mo Vaughn). Boston is going to a six man rotation because they have too many good starters, and that’s not including Clay Buchholtz, who is currently lighting up AAA. Barring a prolonged surge from the Bombers, the Sox are going to win the AL East, which means the Yankees are fighting for the wild card.
However, with no clear second banana in the AL, it should be easy enough for the Yankees to make the playoffs. Tampa, Toronto, Minnesota, Texas, and Anaheim are all good teams, but they each have major flaws. Tampa’s bullpen is awful this year, Toronto’s rotation is held together with duct tape and Roy Halladay (currently on the DL), Minnesota’s pitching is questionable at best, Texas doesn’t have much pitching and traditionally wilts in the summer heat, and does anyone think the Angels have the lineup, rotation, or bullpen to compete in October
It’s the Yankees’ playoff spot to lose. They have good starting pitching and one of the best lineups in the league, even if they haven’t hit the ball in the last two weeks. After scoring 26 runs against the Mets, the Yankees have managed only 16 runs in six games against the Nats and Marlins.
The entire team is slumping at the plate. Jeter had a great hot streak, then cooled off considerably, and is now averaging out to the .300-.310 hitter he has become at this point in his career. Damon has regressed from his torrid start, but he’s still effective. Teixeira is still producing but has cooled down from his .390 pace since A-Rod came back. A-Rod is a mess; who knows if his hip is healthy enough for A-Rod to get back to an All-Star level this season. Cano is up and down, but we expect that. Posada keeps chugging along, even at his advanced age. Matsui is closer to the Geico gecko than Godzilla, Melky and Gardner are .280 hitters, and Swisher is just pissing me off.
Swish takes a ton of pitches and gets on base 40% of the time. I understand how valuable that is. But how long can we tolerate a .240 batting average and a guaranteed double play if there’s a man on first? He’s become more automatic than J.D. Drew. Swisher, I thank you for your hot start and military salute during role call, but we need more from you, buddy. I’m giving you a longer leash because you’re likable. Don’t test New York fans. They will turn on you if you suck.
Outside of the awful, awful bullpen, the biggest problem for the Yankees is the outfield. It’s terrible defensively, and the Yankees don’t have the pieces in house to upgrade significantly. Being the baseball savant that I am, I have a solution.
Left Field: Damon is below average at this point in his career, but we need his bat in the lineup. He can stay in left and DH when he needs a break.
Center Field: I would love to see Gardner in center. He’s an average fielder but his Usian Bolt speed allows him to make up for bad jumps. We all know he isn’t afraid of the wall.
Right Field: I say we DH Swisher and put Melky in right. Cabrera has the arm for right field, and as small as right in new Yankee Stadium is playing, he wouldn’t have to cover much ground. At this point I would rather have a scarecrow out in right field than Swisher. He’s awful. Not only that, but it seems like he makes a baserunning mistake every time he gets on. What is up with this guy? I realize he’s the goofball clubhouse guy, but at some point Girardi or Jeter has to slap Swish in his faux hawked face and say Wake up, dammit. He’s costing the Yankees runs.
Damon, Gardner, Melky, left to right. Girardi, get it done, because the Yankees need to turn it around, and fast. It’s still June, so I’m not panicking yet. If they’re four back in September, then I’ll get nervous. Shape up, though, because it’ a long time until the Giants kick off. Baseball is all I have. Make me proud.
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