What a first half for the Yankees. The entire starting rotation, minus Hiroki Kuroda, has been decimated. The huge free agent bats that were brought in this offseason, minus Jacoby Ellsbury, appear to be busts. Yet, somehow the Yankees sit at .500, so it wasn’t all that bad.
What can we as Yankees’ fans take from the first half of the season? Is there hope that the Yanks get to play October baseball? I can’t answer that just yet, but I can tell you there were certain things that went down in the first half that still have me scratching my head. The Bronx is boiling folks, and I need to blow some steam.
3 MOST QUESTIONABLE CHOICES OF THE FIRST HALF
3. Chase Whitley as a starter. I like Whitley a lot. I wrote a profile piece on him in spring training, how I felt he was more suited for the Yankees’ bullpen that Preston Claiborne and Shawn Kelley. He didn’t break camp in pinstripes and went to SWB to work on his transition from reliever to starter. Well, after just six starts, the Yankees felt he was ready. They caught lightning in a bottle his first few starts, but now he can’t make it through a lineup more than once. Simply put, Whitley needs to be on the Yankees, but he does not need to be in the starting rotation. I personally was very surprised to not see Jeff Francis take the mound against the Orioles on Sunday. Why did we trade for him?
2. Kelly Johnson is still on this roster. Johnson isn’t terrible, but the fact that he is still on this roster makes no sense. Apparently Cashman is opposed to calling up the scorching hot Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A this season, but that doesn’t mean Jose Pirela isn’t ready. Pirela is more suited for the current Yankees roster. He plays every position that Johnson plays but he does something that Johnson doesn’t… hit the baseball. Brian Roberts is coming around with a hot bat as of late, but he too needs to be moved. The fact that Alfonso Soriano was designated and removed from this roster when most of his salary was being paid by the Cubs and Roberts and Johnson are still here makes little sense to me. Yes, Yangervis Solarte fell off after his amazing start, but I think every Yankee fan in the world rather see him and Zelous Wheeler out there everyday over Johnson and Roberts.
1. The one that got away. I have taken a lot of heat for it, writing endless articles on how I disagreed with the move. I don’t care. Letting Robinson Cano walk was a huge mistake. Did he want too much money? Yes, but the Yankees didn’t really negotiate. Was he lackadaisical? Sometimes, sure. But he was a huge bat in the middle of the lineup that the ill-fated RISP Yankees are missing. Some fans comment: even Mariano Rivera said he would choose Dustin Pedroia over Cano. Ok, but the Yankees didn’t have that choice and never will. Some fans will point to his poor playoff performances. Well, without Cano, it sure doesn’t look like the Yankees are going to even make the playoffs, but do you know who is very much in the hunt? The Seattle Mariners. A Mariners team that finished 71-91 last season. A Mariners team that let four of their offensive leaders walk in the offseason and started this season with two of their three best pitchers on the DL. And they have a better record than the Yankees. There is something to be said for that.
The Yankees let one of, if not THE, best second baseman in baseball walk away and here was their master game plan to replace him: sign Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, sign a broken and oft-injured 37-year-old Carlos Beltran, and sign Brian McCann. All of those steps “ensured” the Yankees had bodies in the field to replace Cano and bats in the lineup to fill his void. Well, guess what? It didn’t work. And the Yankees are currently trailing the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays and despite all of the pitching struggles and injuries they have endured this season, the Yanks are in third place for one simple reason. They don’t score runs.