It doesn’t take much digging to find out why development plans and Yankee fans don’t mesh. Take a look through the comments on our Game Thread Overflow post, and you will be greeted with a lot of Yankee fans who are ready to throw in the towel on the 2008 season.
Of course, we’re only 13 games into the season, and the bats haven’t come alive yet. There’s really no need to panic, but such are Yankee fans. The FAN — while not bemoaning the Mets’ crappy start tomorrow — will be a-twitter with Yankee fans ready to throw themselves off of the Willis Ave. Bridge. While some people are already calling for one of Darrell Rasner, Steven White, Jeffrey Marquez, Kei Igawa, Jeff Karstens, Whitey Ford, Ed Figueroa or Dick Tidrow to replace Phil Hughes in the rotation, in reality, the Yanks are better off with their 21-year-old stud pitching in the bigs. You can take that to the bank.
Tonight’s problem for Phil was of course location. His stuff was as electric as it’s been, but he couldn’t buy a strike. A 40-pitch first inning was a harbinger of things to come, and he couldn’t make it off the third inning. Maybe it was the cold; Daisuke Matsuzaka couldn’t locate many of his 116 pitches tonight either. In fact, he barely managed to throw more than half for strikes. So we’ll see how Hughes fares in five days. In the meantime, we can’t expect a 21-year-old with great stuff to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders.
If we’re going to nitpick this game, it’s the same old, same old for the Yankees. It’s watching Joe Girardi, a Joe Torre disciple, making the same mistakes that his mentor used to make. The idea that Joba Chamberlain can’t pitch while the Yankees are losing a close game is one that should be thrown out the window along with Kyle Farnsworth. The idea that Johnny Damon shouldn’t be bunting with two on and no out late in the game should go out the window too.
At some point, the bats will come alive; the Yanks would pound out 10 runs; and everyone will calm down. For now, it’s just 13 games. They’re 6-7, a whopping two games out of first place. Nothing is ruined.
Nothing, that is, except for Jose Molina’s hamstring. This is in fact worse news than anything we saw on the field tonight. Molina’s been a God-send so far this year. He’s hitting .364 with seven doubles and has more than adequately filled in for Jorge Posada behind the plate. But now he’s out for a few weeks, and the Yanks’ catching situation just grew dire.
As we saw tonight, Jorge cannot throw yet, and his eventual replacement tomorrow night — Chad Moeller — has a careeer OPS+ of 60. He was filling a roster spot in Scranton; now he has to catch at the Big League level and fill in a lineup spot, something for which he is ill-equipped.
The beginning of the season is a tough time for Yankee fans. We tend to find the cloud in every silver lining, but at 6-7, two games out, the Yanks may be down, but they’re far from out. Give them a chance. We’re all fans after all; let’s cheer for our team instead of killing ourselves over them. Save that for August and September.