Off-Day Open Thread: Predicting the rest of the season

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In one corner: The Yankees are done. The Yankees have a terrible defense, an old lineup and no spark-plug. They have young pitchers that need some seasoning, and a new manager who hasn’t yet mastered managing a team in New York. They’re overpaid, underperforming and aren’t likely to get any better this year. Middle of the division, here we come.

In the other corner: The Yankees are once again starting slow. That they are 20-24 despite little in the way of offense is a promising sign. Once they’re hitting the ball, they’ll win games in droves. Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina have been great; Andy Pettitte will get back and track; and Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes will right their ships in due time. Plus, we’ve got Joba Chamberlain the starter hopefully on the horizon. With A-Rod on the mend and Jorge a few weeks behind him, with Robbie Cano‘s and Jason Giambi‘s bats showing signs of waking up, it’s only a matter of time before they turn it up a notch.

And so that’s your premise for your off-day open thread: Are the Yankees really this bad or is it just an early-season slump? Play nice; have fun.

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  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    It’s a little of both. The young pitchers do need some more seasoning, but I expect the offense to right itself sometime soon. Ultimately, I think they figure it out and end up in the wildcard chase at the very least.

    • http://ibleedblueandwhite.blogspot.com Jamie

      Just as long as Joba ends up starting this season. That’s at least my main wish at this point.

      • mustang

        If they keep playing like this you may get your wish.

      • Micky7 Old Ranger

        Let us hope that Joba doesn’t have the troubles of the other two young guns. He shouldn’t, but starting and BP are two different things, so one never knows. The good point is, he has had set backs already this year, and one can assume he has learned from them. I think he will be alright…maybe a #3/4 starter, hopefully much more. 27/08.

    • mustang

      Agree.
      Although I’m a lot more worried about this season’s team then in the past .

      • http://yankeesfuture.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

        Agreed. Remember this team is almost the same as last year’s except already old and one year older than last.

        • whozat

          “Remember this team is almost the same as last year’s”

          The team that won 94 games despite having Wang miss the first month of the season, Chase Wright, Tyler Clippard and Matt DeSalvo start a bunch of games and LITERALLY no dependable bullpen arms other than Mo?

          Oh no! Not THAT team!

          By the end of the season, Joba will be in the rotation, one of Hughes or Kennedy will have solidified another spot, and some of the interesting bullpen arms will have stepped up. Cano will hit, Abreu will take more walks, and ARod replacing Gonzalez will be HUGE.

          The Sox were third in the division in 06. If that’s what has to happen for the pieces to get all lined up for 09, then so be it. I don’t think it will…if Giambi and Cano can keep up their May performance, Melky can be the guy he was last June through August…they’ll be ok. If I could add one thing, it’d be a Xavier Nady/Bobby Kielty type player and/or a righty 1B. I really do think the other parts can call come from within. Damon concerns me, though, if Melky can be who he was in April and last June-August, he could totally step into that role.

  • dan

    I think it’s a miracle that they’re even close to .500. Outside of Wang, and maybe Mussina, the starting pitching has been pretty bad. Middle relief is a revolving door, although that’s starting to look more like the plan rather than a necessity. The hitting has been downright atrocious.

    If you told me before the season, “The Yankees are going to be 25th in the majors in runs scored on May 19th,” two thing would happen. The first thing would be me laughing in your face. The second would be me thinking that their record is approximately 14-30, and not 20-24.

  • Steve

    Sorry to split the baby, but one scenario is too rosy and the other too bleak. It’s somewhere in the middle. I expect Cano to hit, not sure how much Giambi has left. An under reported slumping bat has been Melky, who’s been lousy in May. I can’t expect both young pitchers to right themselves, maybe neither will. I think the bullpen will be strong all year, with or without Joba eventually.

    One change that will improve things is when we stop facing every single lefthander in Baseball. We will eventually need some righty pop off the bench to deal with them, but I just want to get back to .500 first. Obviously A-Rod and Posada will also help remedy this when both are back.

    All of that being said, if we take a step back this year I’ve been OK with that all along.

  • Mike W.

    I think this team basically is what their record is right now. Even with A-Rod coming back to the lineup, does anyone have faith in our starting pitching staff over the course of a season to deliver anything more than basically a five hundred record the rest of the year. Our defense is dreadful. Our clutch hitting is gone and the days of this lineup scoring 900 runs seems to be a long lost memory. You may say, well, all it is going to take is for us to start hitting again. But the problem is, once many players get a little older and lose a little bit of their swing, that little bit becomes all the difference in the world. Does anyone think that Giambi, Damon, Abreu and others are all going to start tearing the cover off the ball? I think this may be the season that we will miss the playoffs.

  • Joltin’ Joe

    I’m gonna take a cue from John Madden and say that if they win their last game, they’ll be in good shape.

  • Joey

    My prediction:

    As all teams do, they’ll go on a nice hot streak (the sooner the better) and will score some runs while their pitching gets marginally better, with Moose and Wang continuing their above average to very good performances, and the likes of Pettite, Rasner, IPK, eventually Hughes giving good, quality outings (and throw in some Karstens, etc…). I pray to the baseball Gods, Joba moves up to the starting rotations sometime around the all star break, maybe even a bit after.

    The hitting of Cano will improve drastically (which will need to happen for the streak to get started in the first place), and A-Rod will hit a home run so high it will burn up upon reentering the earth’s atmosphere. I guess I will have to say wild card looks good right now, although like any Yankees fan nothing but division and World Series titles would satisfy me (until next year). Sorry for the run on sentences, btw.

  • mustang

    I think the stage is set for A-Rod.
    I mean with the way this team is slumping and the weak teams coming up if A-Rod can pull something similar to what he did last April look out.
    He would shut people the hell up and finally lead this team

  • A.D.

    Why this season has been incredibly frustrating as a fan, watching the offense do very little, and then having to see pitching struggle but despite all that the Yanks aren’t in bad shape, and their are many positives.

    Pen looks good, and they have their young pen arms shooting up the system. On the flip side young starters have stuggled, but I still think they’ll bounce back, and on top of that the minor league pitchers from A-AAA have only impressed and exceeded expectations thus far (except Marquez). Which can give plenty of options, depth, and trade bait if a quality future peace become available.

    The silver lining of the offense struggling is that statistically, and probability wise it shouldn’t continue, and if it does ever all click, lights out, this team will go on a run, they could be a lot worse, essentially tredding water despite the injuries & pitching issue is good enough to keep them in it.

    We could see the yanks go .500 to the break, and then I might think that there are no playoffs this season, but we can re-asses then

  • jim

    The yanks should sign Barry Bonds. I know hes a distraction, but they look pathetic at the plate right now and could use his power and on base percentage. Bonds should sign for pretty cheap and then the yanks win the world series.

    • mustang

      I rather lose then watch Barry Bonds play on this team.
      That’s how much I hate the guy.

      • Joey

        ditto

        • A.D.

          triple that, plus we have a DH & left fielder

  • AndrewYF

    Joba needs to go in to the rotation, and soon. He has 18 IP this year. Even if he goes into the rotation July 1st, there’s no guarantee he even comes close to 140 IP.

    I will be really, really frustrated if the Yankees, for absolutely no good reason, are stuck with a 130 IP-limited Joba next year because they tried to be too cute with his development, or even more frustrated (but more heartbroken) if they decide that Joba will stay in the bullpen long-term.

    • Micky7 Old Ranger

      You, me, plus a lot of others will be Vasily disappointed if he stays in the BP. As I posted before, he may have trouble adjusting to starting…but I think he’ll adapt. Looking forward to his starting, big time. 27/08.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I’d like to think the team cares and that they know or can figure out how to be a team.

    I typically go to 5-6 games at the Stadium a year and try to get to Shea or Fenway or down to Baltimore to see them play.

    When I was at the Stadium on Saturday the thing that struck me was how much NOT a team they seem to be. Just a bunch of guys on the field like it was a pickup game and they all just met each other.

    And maybe Jeter should stop saying “Guys need to step up” and start saying “We need to play like a team and as the captain, I’m partially responsible for the fact that we don’t.”

    Maybe Jeter should stop playing aloof disdaining say nothing playboy and figure out how to be a real captain to this group. I won’t use the word team because there is nothing team-like about this group.

    I would have thought that the grueling roadtrip, cold weather and injuries would have brought them together but they all seem distant and apart.

    Some intangibles are tangibly not here.

    • mustang

      I felt the same “team” thing last night could not agree with you more and your dead on with the Jeter thing too.
      Your the captain start leading.

  • Stewman23

    spot on LiveFrom….that’s why A-Rod’s return is paramount. He may not be the elected captain, but i think he has the ability to kick some guys into gear and turn this team around. Also as I’m typing this I’m thinking back to last year how mostly this same group of guys were so loose and “team-ish”; joking around with A-Rod about his shoulder every time he got a hit(after his bad slide into third? or something)

    • Joltin’ Joe

      Yeah I’m starting to doubt this whole “silent leader” thing. A-Rod definitely leads this team offensively, no doubt.

      • A.D.

        He leads by example, he doesn’t need to be a big talker, players watch him rake and they’re jut more inspired

  • Malcard89

    i feel like this team will basically be around .530 in terms of winning percentage until september, and that month they’ll start playing .700 ball. hughes and kennedy will finally have enough experience to be solid starters at the minimum with the potential for more in upcoming years (maybe not kennedy, my faith in his stuff, or lack thereof, is starting to wane. once the homers drop, i’ll have more confidence). joba will take about a month to adjust to the starting role, and he’ll be dominating come september as well. however, with the rays and sox playing the way they are, i think the yanks barely miss the playoffs, but not without putting up a good fight.

    • Malcard89

      of course, it has been a long time since i saw a-rod or posada play, so their additions could certainly catapult us to the top too.

  • RollingWave

    I think they should be fine, though there’s always the chance that they go all 1998 O’s on us. I don’t think it’s likely though, the biggest struggles on offense so far have actually not een the Vets… but Cano… and the attrocious start by the bench.

    they REALLY can’t afford to have any more injuries though.

  • casey

    Through May last season the Yanks were 22-29, had scored 268 runs and had allowed 244 runs. Right now they’re 20-24, have scored 179 runs and allowed 197.

    So the main point to focus on here is that their record is as good as or better than at the same time last year. Last year it took an other-worldly April from A-Rod to keep the team afloat in the standings. This year it has been the consistently excellent Chien Ming Wang, the surprisingly superb Mike Mussina, and the exact amount of luck required to turn a -18 run differential into a poor but still manageable record. While this year’s saviors might be surprising, noone can say that they really expected Alex to do what he did last April either.

    Last year the bats came alive and A-Rod came back to earth, and the Yanks made a strong run and reached the postseason. For the most part, after a rough start for everyone whose last name is not Rodriguez, the position players played about as well as you would like to expect. Posada is the only guy who really outperformed anything we had anticipated and obviously it hurts not to have him in the lineup right now, but still the team is at the same point as they were last year.

    Some will say the lineup is a year older; surely a valid point. But Jeter is still excellent, Giambi still sucks, A-Rod is still A-Rod and will end this season with typically outstanding production, Posada was playing well before an unfortunate injury, Abreu is still a good hitter even if he has lost a step on the bases (which shouldn’t be the case given that he is in better shape, so we’ll yet see if he can turn things around…not to mention the benefit of having A-Rod hitting behind him again), and Matsui has been better than expected. Well, that’s all the old guys so the age argument doesn’t exactly fit here.

    As to the pitching, there’s no reason to think Mussina can’t keep this up; he is doing what Greg Maddux/Jamie Moyer types have been doing for years. Wang needs no further explanation and Pettitte is too good and has been too consistent to not turn it around at least somewhat. The kids will be ok in the long run, and the stop-gaps will do just that until youth is at long last served. Mariano has been and will continue to be a machine, and maybe Joba will even get into the rotation at some point.

    In the end, the Yanks will be fine, although “fine” does not necessarily guarantee them the chance at another first round playoff exit. As always in the long baseball season, a lot of things have to be working together for an AL team to make the postseason with anything less than their best. It was, is, and will continue from year to year to be a roll of the dice, let’s just not consider the Yanks crapped out just yet.

  • daneptizl

    What’s the over/under on where the offense ends the season in runs scored?

  • Bonos

    If the old guy can’t catch up to the fastballs, what you see is what you get. The pitching will get better by the All Star break. It won’t be enough.