I know, I know, how can there be a bright side to a 6-for-72 slide with runners in scoring position? How can there be anything positive to draw from losing 6 out of 7 games? Where is the good in being in the basement of the AL East? The answer is not a cop out such as “it’s early in the season” or a blank assertion like, “we’ll snap out of it”. In fact, there is more than one answer and each one has backbone.
While the lineup has been the center of attention the last several days, the rotation has not exactly been top notch. The team’s struggles can be placed firmly on their shoulders as well. The entire team is not playing up to standards. How is this good? Simply, the chances that the Yankees continue to receive poor run production and poor starting pitching at the same time is slim. One or the other will balance out and maybe even both will turn the corner at the same time and go on a run inverse of the current malaise.
Next, they’ve played a majority of the year without their spark plug, Brett Gardner. He may not be the best player in baseball, but he provides that little oomph each team needs now and again. His presence in the lineup causes fits for teams’ opposing pitchers and he is one of the better left fielder’s in the game, which obviously provides a benefit to the Yankees’ staff.
In spite of how it seems, we’ve seen glimpses of great play from many of the position players. Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher had fantastic April’s. Curtis Granderson hit eight home runs in the opening month and has added five more in May. While Alex Rodriguez has only one homer in May, he is hitting .314 for the month. Raul Ibanez has been hammering the ball this month with six homers, fifteen RBI and a 1.033 OPS. After a slow start, Robinson Cano is hitting .347 in May with three home runs and twelve RBIs.
Another reason is Mark Teixeira. Surprised? Yes, he’s getting older and no he has not been as productive as we expected, but Teixeira is more or less where he tends to be at this time of the year. I’m not big on excuses, and Tex has not be making any, but in this case it’s legitimate, he’s ill. This bronchial infection sapped his strength and has wreaked havoc on his swing. As in other seasons where he starts out slow, I expect he’ll come around, especially once the effects of the sickness wear off.
The starting rotation has two front-line starters in CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Both Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have had success with this team and Hiroki Kuroda was better than average until his last couple starts. The bullpen should get David Robertson back soon to anchor what has been a positive for the club most of the season.
Team history suggests the Yankees can turn things around. There have been recent seasons where they have underachieved right through the month of May. Last season at this time they were two games better than where they currently stand. They stormed back and won the division by six games. In 2007, the Yankees were 22-29 at the end of May. They went on to win 72 out the last 111 games to finish as the Wild Card participant.
Lastly, the ownership has time and time again provided general manager Brian Cashman with the resources required to make a run. If they need a pitcher, they’ll try to work a deal. If they need a bat or two they’ll go and get them. The Yankees predicate success on winning in the postseason. The Steinbrenner brothers may not be vocal as often as their father George, but they are every bit as invested in the team’s performance as he was. They take pride as owners of the world’s most famous team and will do everything in their power to help the Yankees win.
There you have it. The Yankees can bounce back. The answers to the Yankees’ turnaround lie in substantive points, not by pointing to the calendar or by uttering weak cliches. The Yankees can expect some returning centerpieces, there have been positives scattered through the dismal stretch, they have a history of success after lackluster starts and the Yankees’ front office and ownership group do not stand for losing. The winning formula is there for the taking, let’s see if the Yankees grab it and run.
Tags: A-Rod Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Brett Gardner Brian Cashman CC Sabathia Curtis Granderson David Robertson Derek Jeter George Steinbrenner Hir Ivan Nova Mark Teixeira New York Yankees Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Raul Ibanez Robinson Cano Yankees