Once again, a writer who has spent a considerable amount of time covering the New York Yankees, is calling for the impending doom of the Bronx Bombers unless they begin to hit home runs at a record pace. Yes, this reference is to Joel Sherman’s recent piece, and it is simply wrong on so many levels.
Sure, Mr. Sherman makes some valid points that the Yankees spent a ton of money on free agent hitters Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Does he need reminding of how many World Series titles the Yankees won with Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano? None for Grandy, and one with Swisher and Cano. Pitching wins championships. Of course we would all love to see Beltran and McCann live up to their contracts, and utilize the short porch in right field to send baseball’s out at a record pace. However, it is not a requirement to win a division, a pennant, or a World Series.
The difference between 2009 and today? Pitching. C.C. Sabathia was still an ace, Andy Pettitte was still a warrior when the chips were down, A.J. Burnett was serviceable enough during the regular season, although he never lived up to his contract while in the Bronx, and this is a team that was even able to squeeze 9 victories out of Joba Chamberlain. The ’09 Yankees didn’t have a single 40-home run hitter, even though Mark Teixeira just missed it with 39. Only one other hitter (Alex Rodriguez) topped the 30-homer mark.
While the Yankees might have paid Beltran and McCann a pretty penny, and things haven’t quite worked out, the season is long from over. Beltran is dealing with a bone spur–one that nobody could’ve foreseen other than perhaps a guy at his age could be more prone to developing that type of injury than a younger player. As for McCann, he’s still doing a phenomenal job handling this pitching staff–one that has been CRUSHED by injuries and ineffectiveness. He’s helped make Masahiro Tanaka‘s adjustment to the big leagues smooth. He’s handled Chase Whitley better than anyone could ever of thought. AND…it’s only June 18th. If McCann finishes 2014 near the Mendoza Line and with less than 20 bombs, then it’s time to revisit this discussion.
Anyone that thought Jacoby Ellsbury was going to replicate his 32-home run season of 2011 needs their head examined. He was signed to energize the top of the lineup, and to give Brett Gardner a partner in crime AND to play Gold Glove defense. Check. Check. Check.
Mr. Sherman fails to give anyone on the Yankees’ roster or staff credit for keeping this team competitive and within striking distance of the first place Toronto Blue Jays. As of this writing, the second game of the series between the two divisional foes is in progress. The Yankees are 3 1/2 games out with little to no offense. No Kelly Johnson, no Brian Roberts, no Beltran, no McCann, no Alfonso Soriano. Three and a half games out. If half of these players can heat up even for a month, the AL East is the Yankees’ to lose.
Health matters, and this team will no doubt be in the market for a bat and a starting arm at the deadline, but to paint a picture of doom because a team isn’t going yard three or four times per night? The Blue Jays lead the world in home runs as a team. What happens when they stop hitting and have to depend solely on Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey? What happens when a team-wide slump hits a slugging team in the postseason? Oh yeah, we’ve seen that one play out before. Just ask the Yankees of 2012!