Everybody hurts

Halladay dominates weak lineup as Jays beat Yanks
Cashman hints at another rehab start for Wang

When the Yankees faced Toronto ace Roy Halladay last night, they did so with a massively depleted lineup. Derek Jeter is battling an oblique pull; Jorge Posada and Jose Molina are both on the DL; Xavier Nady is attempting to rehab a severely strained elbow ligament; and Nick Swisher may or may not be recovering from a bruised elbow.

Halfway through the game, Hideki Matsui found himself out of the game. He had felt a cramp in his right hamstring, and the Yankees made the prudent move of protecting their DH. In came Swisher; out went Matsui. Yankee fans just sat back and shook their heads. While this team is, on average, not that old, their key pieces are mostly on the wrong side of 30, and it’s beginning to show.

Already, this year, in addition to Nady and the two catchers, the Yankees have played for an extended period of time without their All-Star third baseman, their left-handed set-up reliever, their right-handed set-up reliever, and their back-up infielder. Their other left-handed reliever — Phil Coke — is battling a sore back, and their number two starter wasn’t up to strength after suffering a freak accident last June.

For a $200 million team, it’s hard to make excuses. After all, if the Yankees are investing so much into their starters, shouldn’t they have a viable Plan B for when the starters go down? Last night, in the comments to Joe’s game recap, a few of us got into a discussion about the Yankees bench. Some fans claim Brian Cashman didn’t build enough depth into the team. Others — as I do — feel that the Yanks have suffered through more injuries than any GM would expect and that it is impossible to have a Plan B that replaces a third of your team.

This debate hinges on the bench and its proper place on the Yanks. When the season started, the Yankees’ bench was projected to include Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady, Jose Molina and Cody Ransom. Swisher or Nady would provide the pinch-hitting pop. Gardner and Melky would be the late-inning defensive specialists or, in Gardner’s case, the speed off the bench. Molina would more than adequately back up Posada with stellar defense, and Ransom would ride the pine while spelling Jeter and A-Rod. The best laid plans, indeed.

Six weeks into the season, the bench now resembles a list of never-will-bes and has-beens. Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Cash are the team’s two catchers. Brett Gardner plays sparingly. Angel Berroa and Ramiro Peña are the go-to infielders of last resort. Injuries will decimate any team, and the Yankees are no exception.

Should Brian Cashman, then, be held responsible? He could have had Mark DeRosa for $5.5 million or Mark Grudzielanek, say the detractors. But the truth is that these players aren’t bench players. DeRosa starts for the Indians, and Grudzielanek wants a starting job. For all of their money, the Yankees can’t shell out $10 million or more for guys who will, in an ideal world, play once or twice a week.

A bench is a bench because these players aren’t starters. If they could play every day, they would be somewhere else, making more money and enjoying more playing time. That’s just a fact of baseball life.

But — and this is a significant but — the Yankees are not a young team, and it’s showing. Matsui, Damon, Jeter, A-Rod, Posada and Molina are all well past 30. So are Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett. While the Yanks have some young players, they are a team relying on age, and age breaks down.

Over the next few years, the Yanks will have some opportunities to shed age. Pettitte, Damon and Matsui are free to go this year, and Jeter faces a controversial free agency the year after. Posada is under contract through 2011, and Mo through next season.

With these potential departures, the Yankees have to find a way to get younger. They have A-Rod until he’s past 40, and Teixeira and Sabathia into their late 30’s. As long as these older players are still here and still getting paid $20 million, the Yankees will face the dangers of age-related injuries. Pulled hamstrings and sore obliques are here to stay, and maybe the Yankees should think about spending more to beef up Plan B and C in the coming seasons. Otherwise, age will make it difficult for the team to win.

Halladay dominates weak lineup as Jays beat Yanks
Cashman hints at another rehab start for Wang
  • JP

    “For a $200 million team, it’s hard to make excuses. After all, if the Yankees are investing so much into their starters, shouldn’t they have a viable Plan B for when the starters go down?”

    See, that’s the thing. You don’t have a $200M payroll without long term deals. Long term deals stifle you in terms of player management. You HAVE to play the guys when they’re available, so nobody else gets a chance.

    Jeter shouldn’t have gotten the number of years he did. Sorry. I know he’s the face of the team, but to put a guy like him under contract through age 37 was stupid. If he had a deal that ended in 2005 or 2006, they could have put some pressure on him to move to the OF. Ramiro Pena isn’t supposed to be a good hitter, but he did hit a few line drives of Halladay last night, which is more than A-Rod can say…how much longer do we have to look at this kid before someone realizes he needs to be playing SS for the Yankees? But he can’t. Because the team is clogged with guys in their 30s.

    The corollary of “getting younger” means you have to play hardball in contract negotiations, and you have to accept that some guys might walk. I suppose it’s ok to have one or two star players with long term deals (one pitcher, one position player?), but beyond that, sometimes you gotta say no. I wonder how many people in Boston were outraged when they cut ties with Nomar. That one turned out pretty good in the end.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      “which is more than A-Rod can say”

      Really? Seriously? You’re going to pooh-pooh Alex for hitting a solid grounder through the hole with a runner in scoring position? Really?

      • JP

        I wasn’t saying anything about A-Rod as much as I was saying something about Pena. I applaud A-Rod’s hit; in fact, when he hit it, I made a mental note to try to remember it, so that the next time someone started whining about his choking in the clutch, I could point out that he hit an RBI single off the toughest pitcher in the league, when the rest of the team’s stars (except for Damon) were either on the bench or looking at strike 3.

        But that’s beside the point…the point was about Pena. I am not – repeat – not saying I believe he is Cal Ripken, or even Omar Vizquel. Maybe he’s the second coming of Celerino Sanchez or Fred Stanley. But people seem content to ignore him as nothing more than a bench player. Yet he’s hitting as well as several stars on the team, and he hit a couple of line drives against the best pitcher in baseball last night. He’s a switch hitter. He draws walks. Don’t even get me started on how much better he is at SS than our 36 year old regular.

        If this isn’t a time to give a young player a chance, I don’t know when there is. Jeter is the captain and the leader, you’d think he’d be willing to do whatever was needed for the team. Well, right now we need OF/DH depth, and when there’s a 23 year old with a better glove than you who is holding their own against MLB pitching, maybe it’s time for Derek to swallow his pride and get an OF glove.

        • jeremy51

          Jeter should have moved off of SS in 2004, since the best SS in the game was joining the team. That move wasn’t even considered. So even though he’s the captain, sometimes he doesn’t have the team in mind.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tADvb3yyhwM Slugger27

            arod would be worse than jeter at ss now… have u noticed the difference in his body between 2002 and now? hes bulkier and heavier

            i think hed be the worst defensive SS in baseball right now, even without the hip problem

            • JP

              I don’t think ARod would be worse at SS, but I don’t think he’d be good, either. He has a much, much better arm than Jeter. Range would probably be similar. Not sure how he was on the DP.

              ARod is a good 3b; at least, he’s a better 3b than Jeter is a SS.

            • jeremy51

              I respectfully disagree, but to a larger extend I think you miss the point.

              Arod offered more value defensively, and any defensive decline would have been well compensated for by his MVP offense. Jeter’s defensive decline has been evident longer than Yankee fans care to admit, despite winning Gold Gloves, and his offense does not compensate in the same manner that Arods would.

              But the larger issue is Jeter’s unwillingness to relinquish his status for a decidedly better player. Both of these guys could be a net positive at their position if Jeter had been the one to move. Furthermore, a move of Alex to 3rd would have been possible to make way for a defensive upgrade at SS. Arods move would still play as a positive because of his plus offense. Jeter, being a serviceable defender as a corner outfielder, will not compensate for what will be an average corner outfield bat. That’s if he does make the move. If he remains at SS, his offense will no longer compensate at the level needed to make him a + at the pos.

              • JP

                I’m confused…

                I agree, in 2004, Jeter should have moved to 3rd, and A-Rod played short. ARod was a better defender.

                Are you saying that now, Jeter shouldn’t move to OF because he doesn’t have enough of a bat to take up a corner OF position? I’ve heard that argument…it makes sense, but only if you have someone better available to take the job. Right now, Jeter would be as good as anyone available to the Yankees at the corner OF position.

                But yes, I agree that Jeter hurts the team by refusing to swallow his pride and move away from SS. At least Posada can say there are very few catchers (zero, in fact, that are available) that can hit as well as he does relative to the average catcher. Jeter’s slow but steady offensive decline makes it harder and harder for him to make the case that his offensive production as a SS justifies his lousy defense.

                • jeremy51

                  What I’m saying is that Arod, at either position, and at either spot is a net positive if not amongst the best in the game at the position. Jeter, while an upgrade for the Yankees at the corner OF spot, would be more in-line with league average. The argument was more about contrasting Arod and Jeter’s value relative to the position.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I’m going to say something here about Jeter that isn’t uttered or very popular.

      The reason Derek Jeter has a 10-year contract for so much money is because he had to keep up with A-Rod. He signed his deal a few months after A-Rod landed with the Rangers and wanted so much money because A-Rod got a bigger deal with fewer rings. Did anyone ever believe Jeter would actually be worth $190 million? Probably not.

      For all the stories, we hear about about A-Rod’s obsession with Jeter, I think it runs both ways sometimes.

      • jsbrendog

        +1

      • Nady Nation

        By that logic, Mike Mussina is obsessed with Carl Pavano.

        • Nady Nation

          On a serious note, his 10 year deal probably had much more to do with the fact that he was using A-Rod, who was an elite SS in his prime at that time, as a benchmark, since Jeter too was an elite SS in his prime when he signed his deal. He got what, $60 million less than A-Rod? Makes sense, since A-Rod is a better player. I can’t see any reason why you’d actually think Jeter is “obsessed” with A-Rod just because they each signed 10 year deals.

      • Ed

        A-Rod was the best shortstop in the game at the time. Jeter was the 2nd best. It only made sense to base his demands off of A-Rod.

        Jeter was an amazing player at the time. He had a 3rd place and a 6th place finish in the MVP voting the prior two years. He had just come off of a 153 OPS+ season. For a shortstop at the time, his stats were amazing.

        And don’t forget that Jeter is worth far, far more than A-Rod from a marketing perspective. Jeter generates a ton of money for the team.

        His contract made sense at the time – he was an elite player who signed when contract values were extremely high.

  • A.D.

    Regardless of age or payroll, this is just a redic amount of injuries, especially with guys (outside of Matsui’s knees) that have a pretty clean injury history.

    • ChrisS

      especially with guys (outside of Matsui’s knees) that have a pretty clean injury history.,

      Except, really, once a player hits his 30s, injury history is pretty much irrelevant. Freak injuries on this team are Wang and, to a lesser extent, Nady. Jeter, Arod, Posada, Molina, Bruney, and Matsui are pretty much to be expected at this point.

      • whozat

        Bruney is 27 years old.

        • ChrisS

          But he’s a pitcher. Wang or Bruney straining a ligament in their foot is odd, but a pitcher with a sore arm is a near-daily occurrence in baseball. I don’t bemoan fate when a pitcher comes down with arm/shoulder related injuries because that’s a risk with any pitcher (more so with ones that have been abused – cough, Scott Proctor – or overused when young).

  • Hobbes

    We need Coughlin in here to toughen these guys up. Could it be that they are a little too cautious with some of these things? The pitchers I understand, but Jeter’s oblique? he didn’t look like he was dying last night in the dugout. Toughen up!

    • V

      They weren’t cautious with ARod last year or Posada this year.

      Know what happens when you’re not cautious? A 1 day injury becomes 3 week injury.

      • Hobbes

        True, it’s just so frustrating.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Dude. How many oblique injuries have you heard of that don’t end up with DL stints?

      Perhaps a better question is, have you ever played baseball? If you don’t think an oblique injury for a hitter is a serious issue, I don’t know what to tell you.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        +17

      • Whitey14

        An oblique injury just sent Youkilis to the DL and he’s way tougher than Jeter.

        Not as popular with the ladies, but…still tougher ;-)

        • JeffG

          Nice one.

  • ChrisS

    Berroa is a waste of a roster spot and Pena is a more than capable back-up spot-starter. He and Cano were both pretty slick last night. Gardner is an almost complete waste of a roster spot, excepting his defense and speed. I’d rather have Shelly up, at least can occasionally get the ball out of the infield.

    However, when you go with a 38 yo catcher, the back-up is supremely important and Jose ain’t a spring chicken either (see Quad, strained).

    But ultimately, I think, the lack of any kind of legitimate or near-ML ready positional talent in the minors is killing this team. The Office probably has an older team than most ML teams.

    And Teixeira is really struggling, granted, it was Doc, but christ he looked awful.

    • JP

      Why isn’t Pena ready? He’s hitting as well as Jeter. He’s hitting better than Texiera. He’s hitting better than Gardner, who the team thought was ready enough to play CF. He’s hitting better than Molina.

      Look, I know he’s been a light hitter as a minor league player. I’m not expecting him to be an above average major league hitter. But look at how slick he and Cano were last night. If you’re going to field a sucky team, why not at least try to maximize what you get from it? With all the OF’s down, can’t Jeter play OF? Do we have to bring up Shelly Duncan or AJ? Can’t Jeter DH? Maybe Ramiro Pena will be a surprise. Maybe he’ll be a player like Eckstein, or Adam Everett…someone who is good luck, a good defender, does little things. He can’t be worse than what the team is doing now, with the “stars” in there.

      • Evan

        If Girardi won’t move Tex out of the #3 spot, do you really think he is going to move Derek Jeter to the OF? It’s not happening. 2 more years of Jeter at SS, just deal with it.

        • JP

          Yeah, maybe. I wish I were the only one who had to deal with it. I wonder how the pitching staff feels?

  • ChrisS

    Pena’s already on the team. He’s not in AAA waiting to help. Personally, I’d like to see what he can do for team defense at SS on an everyday basis.

    • JP

      +1

    • Evan

      Not going to happen. Unless Jeter is going on the DL with this oblique, Pena will get a crack at SS about once or twice a month.

  • JackC

    I commented last night that the team was old (a lot of its key components, anyway) and was greeted with a series of numbers proving the Red Sox were essentially the same age. Which, of course, missed the central point — because The Yanks are, on average, about as old as another old team doesn’t mean they aren’t old.

    Moreover, and this is where several of my fellow posters seemed to disagree, I agree with your contention that too many of the key parts of this club are on the wrong side of 30, whereas, say, Boston (to stay with the team my colleagues wanted to focus on ) are, by and large, not. Of course there are exceptions on both sides, and with Cano and Tex they’ve got some players of note in their 20’s, but the “heart” of this club is a little old. But I think the age of Jeter, posada et al is manageable if the fram system had some prospects of note. I think the rickety, hobbled look the Yanks have shown at times this season isn’t too odd for a veteran club. What’s odd is their seemign incompetance at producing high level talent who can patch these occasional signs of wear and tear.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Just want to point you towards the average ages for all teams. look at the list, and you will notice that for the most part, the better teams are in the older half of the league.

      http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rosters

      • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

        That analysis means nothing. The younger teams are the ones who only want players in their arbitration years.

      • ChrisS

        Average age is a pretty meaningless statistic.

        Great, there’s two 35 yo journeyman relievers in the bullpen. Are they as integral to the team as the 26 year old stud in LF? Or the 22 year old on the peak of blossoming into superstardom?

  • KW

    It’s rough, but everyone’s getting hit with the injury bug. It’s still not really much of an excuse though, the sox have lost a huge amount of players to the DL, and so have the jays. And no, it doesn’t really excuse the lack of depth, or the yankees lack of usage of it, at the minor league level.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Lack of depth? No. Depth depleted yes?

      Yankees’ lack of smart usage of other depth? Yes.

      The whole point here is that there was no lack of depth under the original plan, but when nearly one half of your original plan is banged up or on the DL, the depth vanishes no mater how smart your GM is or how much money he has to play with.

  • Will

    The Red Sox have lost Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowrie, Lugo and Dice K for various periods of time. Their top two pitchers have been relatively bad and their clean-up hitter is going through withdrawal. They have also had to make two west coast trips. Somehow, they have managed to win 21 games.

    Maybe, just maybe we need to look at each team’s manager to determine why one team has been able to handle adversity while the other has not.

    • A.D.

      Pedroia has missed 1 game, and Luckily for the Sox Green has outperformed the offense Lowrie or Lugo would put up.

      Key has been Sox pen >>>>> Yankees pen

      • Will

        Jeter has also missed one game, but some are adding him to the litany of Yankee injuries.

        The Sox pen has definitely been the difference, but I don’t think that accounts for a 6 game swing. Of course, maybe Francona just knows how to use his pen better? Girardi got credit for the success of the Yankee pen last year, so he deserves a hit for pretty much the same group failing so misersably. What’s more, giving up on a Melancon in favor of a Tomko reaks of a “trust the veteran” philosophy.

        • A.D.

          True on Jeter, it is included in this post.

          It could be use, but honestly the Yankees pen has had a few situational issues, and mainly just generally ineffectiveness from guys who should simply be pitching better. Meanwhile Delcarmen and Ramirez are sporting ERAs under 0.60, which simply isn’t going to last.

          • whozat

            Also, frankly, the starting staff has really not held up its end of the bargain. It’s tough to have a good bullpen when you’re eating up 25+ innings a week.

    • Stryker

      managers in baseball are essentially useless. they have almost zero outcome on how the game goes.

      what would you like girardi to do? he can’t make players get that must-needed hit or stay healthy.

      • Will

        If manager’s are useless, then why not simply fire Girardi on a whim. If there is a .0001% chance it will motivate the team, wouldn’t it be worth it (assuming as you do that managers are essentially useless)?

        I don’t think manager’s are useless and believe that Girardi’s game management is enough to warrant a change. I also wonder about the atmosphere that he fosters. The Yankees have seemed like a very tight team over the past year-plus. I could be wrong, but then again, maybe I am not.

        • whozat

          We used to say the same thing about the Yankees WHENEVER they were losing. They started 2005 – 2007 “looking tight” as well, back when Torre was managing.

          When your starting pitching frequently doesn’t keep you in the game, and your lineup is decimated by injury…you’re GOING to “look tight” because you’re losing and it’s frustrating.

          You’re projecting your own feelings onto the players.

          • Will

            If I was projecting my feelings onto them, I think I’d see a little more passion.

            Again, the Red Sox are getting awful starting pitching and have had several injuries. How are they able to handle these challenges?

            As for Torre, I think that atmosphere around those clubs was a little tight because by that time Torre was battling with the organization to keep his job.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Again, the Red Sox are getting awful starting pitching and have had several injuries. How are they able to handle these challenges?

              Because they have had far fewer injuries, and at less critical positions. They’ve been without Youkilis for like a week and a half, Pedroia for a day or two, and Lowrie, Kotsay, and Dice-K for the season. We’ve been without ARod for a month, Posada for a month, Bruney for like three weeks, Molina for two weeks, and Nady, Wang, and Marte for the season.

              That, plus the luck that Jason Bay is having the best month of his life and Tex is having the worst month of his life.

              • JackC

                This cuts both ways. Actually, they haven’t had far fewer injuries — Lowrie, Lugo, Kotsay, Baldelli (granted, not critcal, but here nonetheless), Youklis, Pedroia, Dice-k. Also,I think a Sox fan might dispute the loss of Dice K, Youklis (their best hitter, during whose absence they’ve gone 4 – 1)and Pedroia as being at less critical positions than the Yanks losses of A-Rod and Posada. Your point about bay vis-a-vis Tex is an excellent one, but one could equally say Damon is on an unusaully good tear and that Ortiz has had the worst month and half of his career.

                I blame their different records far less on ,say, Girardi, than I do on the starters pitching poorly, which of course depletes the bullpen. But does the team look bad SOLELY because of poor pitching and injuries? Maybe, but it’s tough to say; I wish I had your utter conviction as to what precisely their problems are and aren’t.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  My point about the injuries is this: the fact that we’ve had roughly the same number of players hurt is only part of the story; we’ve lost the players we’ve lost for more actual man-hours than they have. Youkilis and Pedroia just got hurt in the past 10 days. We’ve been without ARod, Nady, and Posada for more time than we’ve had them healthy and on the team.

            • Tank the Frank (formerly just “Frank”)

              Because Theo Epstein >>>>>> Brian Cashman.

              I’m sorry. It is what it is.

  • dane bramage

    This team needs a shake up.Clueless Joe and his coaches have to go.I’
    m not blaming Joe for everything that has gone south,but he seems unable to light a fire under this team.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I cannot wait for the Yankees to start winning and seeing about 70 percent of you people leave.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        I don’t think they’ll leave, nor do I want them to leave. Everyone reacts to losing differently. Some try to keep things in perspective, others like to let their emotions dictate their responses. The problem, of course, is that emotions deceive, to the point where fans think that they know what’s going on in the clubhouse, believe that the team actually doesn’t care about winning, and think they can ascertain that Joe Girardi can’t motivate his team. It’s foolish, but it’s what emotional overreaction will lead one to believe.

        • JP

          Well said. But I don’t think we can be sure that some of the players don’t care about winning, nor can we be sure that Girardi can motivate the team. Their current record, and the emotional reaction, doesn’t prove anything either way.

        • Will

          Why is it foolish to think that a managerial change would have a positive impact on this team. We need only look across at the field to see how a new “voice” can yield improved results with the same group of players. Gaston has seemed to bring a new atmosphere and attitude to the Jays and the early results have been very positive. Maybe the Yankees need such a change?

          I realize that a manager’s contribution is very hard quantify, but ask yourself this: what does Girardi do well as a manager? Is it manage the game? Communicate with his players? Handle the media? Evaluate talent? To be honest, I am not sure if he has developed one yet After 7+ months, I think that’s kind of worrisome.

          Unless you think this team is devoid of talent, then I think the spotlight should rightly be shown on the manager.

          • JackC

            I think we can’t get too worked up about losing to Halladay. If they take the next two, then they will be perhaps on the right path. However, I think the following:

            what does Girardi do well as a manager? Is it manage the game? Communicate with his players? Handle the media? Evaluate talent? To be honest, I am not sure if he has developed one yet After 7+ months, I think that’s kind of worrisome

            Was very well said. I’ve never been too worked up either way about managers, but I believe this — could a new man on the job possibly hurt? Girardi’s gotten nothing out of the club this last year plus — injured though they were, other clubs suffer injuries as well. The Sox lost Ortiz for about 6 weeks, effectively lost Manny by June, have been nothing short of riddled with injurioes this young season, and have done little else but win.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            ”Unless you think this team is devoid of talent, then I think the spotlight should rightly be shown on the manager.”

            I think this team is devoid of talent. I think we’ve got a talented club that Girardi has not yet gotten a chance to manage, because numerous key pieces of that talented club have been injured and unavailable to him for the short duration of his administration thus far, turning us from a talented club into a fairly average and ordinary club (roughly speaking).

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        “I cannot wait for the Yankees to start winning and seeing about 70 percent of you people leave apologize and admit the foolish shortsightedness of your overreactions.”

        Fixed. I’m with Joe Pow, I don’t want them to leave, I want them to learn.

        • Will

          Didn’t we wait all last season for the Yankees to start winning? Will any apologies be owed if another year is allowed to sink into mediocrity?

          • Clayton

            89 wins is mediocrity? Really?

            A record that would have won any other division is mediocrity?

            • ChrisS

              And which division are the Yankees in?

              That’s like saying my 60 mph in a 35mph speeding ticket should be dismissed because in a 65mph zone I would have been under the limit.

              The AL east is a bear of a division. Winning more games than the NL East Division winner and $8 will still get you across the GW Bridge.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Provided that I see this team lose while healthy, then yes, I’ll apologize for understating the Girardi “problem”.

            But so far, if we’re giving Joe a letter grade of A-F, I give him an incomplete.

            • ChrisS

              I will not be holding my breath to see the team compete whole as it was drawn up in the off-season.

              However, I don’t pin the blame on Girardi, either.

    • jsbrendog

      those clueless joe comments are so obnoxious. cause joe torre was clueless too, look how that turne dout huh?

      give the man a chance. Could you motivate a team with the depleting injuries the yankees have> hell it seems even swisher is having trouble staying positive and that mother fucker is like a damn optimism bomb

    • Evan

      I don’t think these guys are going out there not wanting to win. I mean, I can’t imagine Tex is going up into the box saying “that .192 batting average is pretty sweet”. The player’s want to win and succeed as much as we want them too. They don’t need to be motivated, they need to perform better.

  • Big Mike

    Stop all the excuses already.

    Every single major league team suffers injuries. Welcome to the world of sports.

    The Yankees current line up should still be very competitive in the AL East.

    They are not and it is sad to watch.

    I like your blog, but at some point you have to stop crunching the numbers and just call it as you see it.

    The Yankees are a below average baseball team, plain and simple.

    • UWS

      May I just point out that this is their blog and that they can make whatever the hell excuses they want to make? If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

      • Hobbes

        You have something on your nose. Right there…it’s brown. Oh, you got it.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tADvb3yyhwM Slugger27

          this was incredibly lame

        • cult of basebaal

          /oaktagged

    • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif OmgZombies

      “Stop all the excuses already.

      Every single major league team suffers injuries. Welcome to the world of sports.

      The Yankees current line up should still be very competitive in the AL East.”

      Thank you. Their “stars” are not performing as they should.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Can I just point out that I didn’t make excuses for the team? I noted that the Yanks’ depth has been utterly depleted and then warned fans that they better get used to it because the key players on this team are getting up there in years.

      There’s no doubt that the Yanks are, so far, a below-average and disappointing team. It’s hard to make excuses for something that obvious.

    • whozat

      “The Yankees current line up should still be very competitive in the AL East.”

      When your 6-9 hitters are league average or worse, I’m not sure that’s true. Especially when your starting pitching is a shadow of what you expected it to be. That’s what concerns me, frankly. The idea was that the new rotation would be good enough to carry the team. It hasn’t been. What’s going on there?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      ”…but at some point you have to stop crunching the numbers and just call it as you see it.”

      That’s precisely WHY you crunch the numbers. Because if you call it as you “see” it, you’ll almost always be looking at a dataset too small. I have yet to meet somebody who is capable of accurately “seeing” everything with enough clarity to make a reasoned, accurate judgment or evaluation of an event or a phenomenon simply by watching the things he “sees” and not using additional information to examine the things that he doesn’t see.

      I’ve “seen” thus far this season that Mark Teixeira is hitting like crap. “Seeing” this worried me, and if I called it like I saw it, I would conclude that he’s crappy. When I add to that the memories of “seeing” him in Texas, Atlanta, and Anaheim not being crappy, I would then conclude that he may have been good before but he’s crappy now.

      But, if I use data and numbers to “look into” the parts of Teixeira’s previous seasons that I didn’t “see” firsthand, because he wasn’t a Yankee so I wasn’t paying very close attention to him, I’d “see” that he’s a notoriously slow starter but that in every single one of his seasons, he has a bad or an average first 6 weeks and then hits dramatically better from May 15th going forward.

      Crunching the numbers helps me “see” Teixeira better than I would have “seen” him had I not crunched the numbers. Allowing me to call it as I “see” it better than without the data.

      • jsbrendog

        I have yet to meet somebody who is capable of accurately “seeing” everything with enough clarity to make a reasoned, accurate judgment or evaluation of an event or a phenomenon simply by watching the things he “sees” and not using additional information to examine the things that he doesn’t see.

        amazing kreskin. although i never met the guy.

      • UWS

        I see…

      • JP

        Yeah, well, we can’t dispute the moneyball and sabremetrics stuff…it has its use. You’re right, they let us see things for what they really are.

        But much of the value of sabremetrics was in telling us what to ignore, or be skeptical of, too…such as high batting average. Sabremetrics can predict things, but it can’t see into the future. Ball players do, for whatever reason, take sudden turns for the better, or worse.

        I think the original poster’s general idea was: this team _should_ be good, but it isn’t. Maybe the statistics, in this case, suggest or predict something that just isn’t going to prove true.

  • Roger

    How long before the injury excuses come out??

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I think people need to look at the difference between “excuses” and “explanations”. A lot of the things you say are excuses are just explanations.

      We’re not saying the Yankees should be “forgiven”, “indulged”, or “pardoned” for having a slow start due to their injuries. We’re saying their injuries are a reason why they’re having a slow start.

      Nobody is happy with the fact we’re not in first place. What we do is, we understand that there’s a valid reason why they’re not in first place. The injuries do not release them from our expectation that they perform better, but they do elucidate why it is that they haven’t performed better.

      Do you see the difference?

      • ChrisS

        but they do elucidate why it is that they haven’t performed better.

        My team of Babe Ruth’s corpse, Ted William’s head in jar, and Yogi Berra isn’t living up to expectations either. Lazy fuckers. I’m totally firing Connie Mack.

  • http://theyankeebomber.blogspot.com Conan

    Benjamin,

    Great article and great debate last night. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tADvb3yyhwM Slugger27

    Posada is under contract through 2011, and so is Mo

    i believe mo is under contract thru 2010, not 2011… i wish posada was the one with the 3 year deal but oh well

    • YankeeScribe

      Posada is no longer an everday catcher but he’s still dangerous at the plate. Bench Matsui and start Posada at DH.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Matsui is a better ifetime hitter than Posada.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I don’t see how moving Posada to DH and benching Matsui and playing more Molina/Cervelli/Cash at catcher helps us this year.

        I’m all for moving Posada to fulltime DH for 2010 and 2011 and getting a better catcher in the offseason, though. May as well eliminate all the wear-and-tear of catching from Jorge’s responsibility.

        And, the catching market this winter is probably better than the one from last winter. I’d sign Bengie Molina to a two year deal in a heartbeat. I think the Giants let him walk so they can give the position to Buster Posey. Say, Molina on a 2/16M? Great bridge to Montero/Romine?

        • YankeeScribe

          We win more games when Posada’s bat is in the lineup than when it’s not. Matsui still has great at-bats but I don’t see him putting up anymore 25hr 100rbi seasons. Posada still can put up those numbers and I’d be willing to bench Matsui and have Posada DH everyday if that’s what it takes to keep him healthy and in the lineup.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            I’d be willing to bench Matsui and have Posada DH everyday if that’s what it takes to keep him healthy and in the lineup.

            If I felt that the vacated catcher position wouldn’t be a black hole by pulling Jorge out of it, I’d agree.

            What I will agree to is this: I think we should play Jorge LESS at catcher and MORE at DH, even if it means resting Matsui more and playing Molina/Cervelli more at C.

            Not a fulltime benching, though, just a rebalancing of playing time. I still want Jorge to catch and Matsui to DH in at least 50% of the games going forward once Jorge comes back.

            • YankeeScribe

              Here’s my logic:

              Posada’s offense > Matsui’s offense > Posada’s defense

              Tex, ARod, and Posada as the 3-4-5 hitters > Tex, ARod, and Swish/Matsui

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                I agree with your logic and think it’s sound. But, rather than settle for a 3-4-5 of Tex-ARod-Posada, I want a 3-4-5-6 of Tex-ARod-Matsui-Posada, because Matsui still has some good baseball in him and I want it.

                So, while your logic is sound, I think you go too far in calling for a complete benching of Matsui and a permanent move to DH for Posada. I think we’re best served doing a half-benching and half-move so that we can have your good 3-4-5 half of the time and also have the superior 3-4-5-6 the rest of the time.

            • JackC

              That seems right to me. Let’s hope Giradui can employ this srategy sooner rather than later.

  • JohnC

    After this year Damon, Matsui and Nady will all be gone, freeing up 32 mill. Its possible Damon could be brought back on a 1 year deal. Hopefully, Austin Jackson is ready and takes over either right or center field. I don’t see the Red Sox letting Bay get away, and he loves it in Boston. No way Matt Holliday is a 15-20 mill dollar a year player, which is what Scott Boras will be looking for. Its possible Abreu could be brought back as a DH.

    • jsbrendog

      abreu? try to get younger and bring in a guy we didnt want in the first place and has ZERO HR??

    • JP

      I agree, get rid of the old guys. Youth, youth, youth. Not that the youth available to the Yankees is anything great that’s going to lead to a championship. They might get younger and get worse. I’m fine with that. You have to clear the table to set up the next course. Of course, we know Yankee management doesn’t operate this way. But if we keep chasing 30+ year old established players, the next great team will never come along.

      Yeah, can’t wait to get Jason Bay. He’ll throw up a .320/36/110/.610/.405 for Boston this season. The Yankees will give him 6 years and 70 million, and he’ll throw up a .270/23/90/.510/.330 for us, looking like Abreu in the OF.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Heh, perhaps.

        FWIW, Jason Bay is currently the worst defensive outfielder in the league according to UZR (-8.2, twice as bad as Johnny Damon). Which is interesting, since he plays in front of the Monster and has that much less ground to cover… perhaps the ricochets of that damn thing are just too hard to judge and drag down his efficiency.

        That, or he just flat out sucks.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Sorry. Not worst defensive outfielder in the league… Worst defensive PLAYER in the league.

          Jay Ray Bay’s -8.2 UZR is buttnaked last in all of baseball. No fielder has cost his team more runs than the Clearly Canadian.

        • keith

          The green monster actually makes a player’s ZR/UZR worse. It skews the data because some balls that hit the wall are counted against the defender.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Fair enough.

  • YankeeScribe

    While I agree that the Yanks will have to find some way to deal with an aging lineup over the next few years, we SHOULD have enough young players at key positions to keep us in contention. The question is, when will these guys start stepping up and taking the lead the way Jeter and co. did in the late 90’s?

    Melky has been great so far this season. It’s time for Cano, Joba, Wang, and Hughes to step it up and earn their pinstripes. The same can be said for our mercenaries(Sabathia, Burnett, and Tex) as well. All over baseball, you see great teams being led by young star players. The Yanks have youth at key positions, they just have yet to show on the field that they’re as good as their hype…

  • Paul

    Do I want to call a muillgan on the season so far? absolutely…

    Injuries have been a pain…

    BUT ball is about: pitching, defense, and timely hitting…

    Timely hitting is what has been killing this team for the last few years: This year: melky will go 3 for 4, but the one out is with men on base…

    To all those about the money: who was not in favor of CC, AJ, and Tex?? I would do that move time and again…

    At C-who was out there to get??? no one, so we had to sign jorge…
    We have young guys coming up who hopefully will pan out…IF not, then we have to trade young guys to get some players…That will lead to people yelling about getting rid of talent…

    Vicious cycle…

    Timely hitting, RISP stats are killing us…

    Pitching: the pen has been pitiful: Mo has to get stronger…plus we need to work on his replacement(I still think Joba), Bruney is an injured person every year…Marte-has been a wash as of now, Veras has been ugly, Coke is turning it around, Ramirez is inconcisistent…so all the good there from last year is gone..they need to bounce bback huge like…

    Starters: CC and AJ have to get consisitent. Wang needs to bounce back, Andy is Andy, JOba looks good, Hughes needs to turn that corner for himself…

    Defense: OF has been fine, IF has not been bad either…

    It is frustrating no doubt…but the future looks bright to me…

    Losing contracts of: matsui, andy, damon, nady–will open up money for younger guys:
    free agents like crawford, j bay, maybe holliday…SP like roy halladay

    C’s coming up that look good.
    With an IF of: tex, cano, arod…move jeter to OF…SS is the ?–pena? trade for H ramirez???

    OF: melky, ajax, garner-CF, corners: oneo f them, swish…

    Lots of things to look forward to…It is just at this moment–killin me….

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Agreed. It sucks, but for most of these decisions we made that put us in dangerous or precarious positions (like overextending Posada, for example), there weren’t really any other palatable alternatives. So, we soldier on and wait for the guys who are underperforming to start playing up to their abilities, and wait for the guys who are injured to get healthy.

      It ain’t pretty, but it’s all we can do.

    • Stryker

      roy halladay? seriously?

    • Axl

      But Paul, not having timely hitting for many years in a row is WEIRD. It doesn’t even make sense! ESPECIALLY when you have as good of hitters as we have!

      The team is hitting like .244 with RISP this year so far…easily the lowest among any team in the AL…yet we’re 6th in the league in runs scored??? Isn’t that fucking weird?? You scratch your head and you’re like “what is going on here???” It’s as though it’s almost on purpose. That’s how perfect it all looks. And it’s been going on for YEARS!!! They’ve been awful with RISP for a while now…

      And then when you take under consideration that we’ve added and subtracted players over the years…and we get the same result…that makes it even WEIRDER! I mean how??? With all of this talent year after year??

      Just doesn’t make any sense. It really doesn’t. Not to mention the new starting pitching we’ve gotten over the years that have showed up and performed infinitely worse than they ever had before (outside of Mussina only). It’s really mind boggling.

      You add up all this nonsense and you almost understand HOW we’re progressively getting worse year after year…but you still don’t know WHY…it’s incredibly frustrating…

      • JP

        Agree, with all of it. As Billy Joel said “you have to deal with PRESSURE!!”

        • Whitey14

          It’s also another reason why solely relying on stats doesn’t tell the whole story.

  • Axl

    It’s more than age. It’s more than managing. It’s more than the bullpen. It’s more than all of that. It’s something ridiculously strange. Johnny Damon is “battling a shoulder injury” and he was player of the week. Teixeira can’t hit for average with a wrist injury but somehow can hit for power with it??? Matsui was going for the iron man title (albeit with Japan playing time included) he goes down breaking his wrist in a freak accident in 06 and hasn’t been the same since…now his knees are awful. Jorge Posada was never on the DL…hits the DL once now he’s back on it very quickly soon after with a different injury. Ok. Some of these guys are old…but most of them aren’t. Over the past few years – Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Joba etc have all gone down numerous times and they’re under the age of 30…3 of them under the age of 25!!! Rivera has shoulder issues, Pettitte has elbow issues, etc. Our bullpen is a bunch of nobodies who out-performed themselves for one year and perhaps the league has made adjustments…because how hard is it to make adjustments on inexperienced nobody middle relievers??

    Then we have the starters who are ENTIRELY healthy shitting the bed. Sabathia we toss to the side because “he always starts slow so it’s ok”. Well, maybe it’s not ok. It’s ok if you have a healthy rest of the team who DOESN’T start slow!!! But if everybody starts slow and gets injured…adding another guy for hundreds of millions who starts slow doesn’t help climb out of the hole we perennially dig year after year now does it??? Then we go to Burnett. He has a few brilliant games and few terrible games. We look past it because of who he’s opposing or we’ll come up with an excuse of how he had “one bad inning” or “a couple bad pitches”. REGARDLESS!!! It’s a fucking bad outing none-the-less!!! Why all the cover ups and nonsense being tossed around??

    Wang is one of the best pitchers in the game of baseball…wins 19 games back to back years with a career ERA well under 4.00. We sign 2 more ACES for our team to ADD to Wang and his consistency…and what do we get?!?!? THE WORST ERA IN ALL OF BASEBALL?!?!? With Wang, the guy who was just recently the best…is now literally…the WORST?!?!? How does this make sense?!? It’s like perfectly orchestrated by somebody. It’s as thought this were set up like a broadway play or something. You can’t even write this stuff it’s so ridiculous. Nobody would even believe this in a movie!!

    You add scorching red hot Mark Teixeira on the rise in the 3 hole (switch hitting by the way) to compliment arguably the best hitter in all of baseball, Alex Rodriguez…and they’re both hitting under .200 in the 3 and 4 holes respectively (albeit Alex has only 4 games under his belt but still). How???

    The Red Sox’ starting pitching is nearly equally as bad as ours…their bullpen is head and shoulders better…they have been hit by injuries too (not as many) their #3 hitter is literally an automatic out…#3 hitter!!! And they are still like 1 game out of 1st place in the division while our team continues to sink and play mediocre or worse baseball with a payroll over $200 million.

    Why?!?? The Red Sox bring up journeymen AAA players and they hit the crap out of the ball. Nick Green is playing through his shoes…Jon Van Every single handedly beat the Indians in one game…Jeff Bailey gets called up and hits a bunch of RBI in his first game on the team…etc. Their bullpen guys they bring up actually do their job for the most part…How?!? Why?!? Then on the other hand you have the Yankees. Not only do our high paid starters underperform and look like trash (oh yes, both pitchers and position players) but the guys we bring up to replace them or start to give someone a rest??? They not only are bad…but they look literally like they have never played the game of baseball before and it boggles your mind how they are even in the “professional” field. The Red Sox bring up their young pitchers…they dominate (Lester has been shakey but still better than Hughes, etc) Bard, Masterson, etc…they all dominate. Then we bring up our HIGHLY TOUTED prospects and (once or twice they’ll shine)…but year after year now they’ve pitched a brilliant game…then gotten their asses kicked all over the field for about 4-5 games in a row…only to THEN go down with an injury immediately following…as perhaps a last moment to “stop the bleeding” or save whatever is left of these “top prospects” trade value.

    Joba is pretty much the only prospect that is doing anything…and even a few of his outings looked a tad scary with all his walks and bad mistake pitches being made. Not to mention the reason we got him was because he had a history of injuries.

    So what is going on?? Is it age? Is it the bullpen? The depth??

    You say teams shouldn’t pay 5.5 million dollars for Mark DeRosa as a “utility guy” knowing the amount of injuries the Yankees have suffered over the past several years…but we have Nick Swisher as a back up outfielder for $5.5M or even more…don’t we? And behold! He’s starting now because…just like the past 5 or 6 years…we’ve been plagued with a ton of strange injuries right away. So why would that be a bad idea knowing that it’s inevitable??

    I just think something funny is going on. Is it a curse? I’m too rational for that nonsense…but the more and more I witness these unexplainable things happen constantly…the more I wonder about really what the hell is going on.

    Perhaps it’s everything. The money, the media, the expectations, the age, the bad managing, etc…all wrapped up into one. But what are the odds that this all happens all at once?!? Is it really just a coincidence?!?!?

    The Red Sox drop Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay steps in like Manny never left. How?!? We get a BETTER player in Mark Teixeira (than Bobby Abreu) and he immediately joins the party and stinks up the joint like mostly everybody else. Hey, at least he’s doing his part to “fit in”…right?

    • YankeeScribe

      Maybe it’s just bad karma?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Sweet Mo, War and Peace wasn’t that long of a read.

      • Axl

        It may be long…and may be something nobody WANTS to “hear”…but it’s all the truth…and it all doesn’t make any sense…

      • Tank the Frank (formerly just “Frank”)

        You read that whole post?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          No, not really. Just trying to make Axl feel better.

        • Axl

          It’s kind of like watching your girlfriend make out with somebody else. You know it’s there…you know it’s happening…everything you see is real…but you just don’t want to watch it. That’s basically how most people view my rational “wake up calls”. One of these guys here at RAB should give me my own “rant” section…these are THAT good…

          • Whitey14

            Lost me…somebody is making out with your girlfriend?

    • Tank the Frank (formerly just “Frank”)

      It’s been easy lately to look at the team irrationally. For the past few years – or basically since 2004 – it seems like this team can’t do anything right. We some to get progressively worse, for WHATEVER reason, while the Red Sox – and Boston sports in general – is thriving. It is pretty odd when you think about it.

      • Axl

        Exactly. And I live in Red Sox territory which makes it that much worse.

    • JP

      You have summed up my frustrations better than I ever could have.

    • keith

      It was long, and insane, but in some fucked up way he kind of explains it all perfectly. Watching this team, after having such high expectations, is really starting to wear on me. Its May 13th, and while I’m not necessarily worried about where they will be on August 13th, it’s quite shitty right now.

    • Bill R

      Truer words haven’t been spoken. It honestly makes no sense how all this crap happens to us. At least if we were the Pirates or some other small market team we could at least have a legit reason to why our team is bad but we don’t we have a team full of all stars and we play like a team full of AA Players.

  • http://eastrutherfordrant.com donttradecano

    So if matsui is out for a while do we trade for Cameron?

    If you can get him without giving up Melky, Move Melky to left, Damon to DH, Cameron plays CF. Upgrade defensively id say.

    • Tank the Frank (formerly just “Frank”)

      Is Matsui out? From what I’ve heard it was nothing more than a cramp and he should be fine.

      • http://eastrutherfordrant.com donttradecano

        im not sure, thats all i read. But how many times has a guy been fine then been hurt more than thought.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I would be awesome, but I don’t think they do it without taking back Melky, and right now, they’re probably not moving Cameron at all because they’ve been on a hot winning streak.

      We need the Brewers to suck in order for them to move Cameron.

      • Axl

        Just not Cameron to suck…or else that would be no good..

      • Whitey14

        You would be awesome? You already are TSJC, you already are!

  • Rob in CT

    This has been incredibly frustrating. Trying to remain calm & rational is really hard right now. It seems like each and every game is an excercise in “how can we lose today?” coupled with “who’s going down with an injury today?” It’s brutal. It’s made worse, of course, by watching the Red Sox win in spite of their injuries (which, I agree with Tommie, aren’t quite as bad).

    There have been some gut-wrenching late losses thanks to the bullpen, Mo included. I’ve taken the two bad Hughes games hard.

    The best I can do right now is hope that this is rock bottom.

    • Evan

      Hope this is rock bottom, but don’t expect it to be.

  • brian paul

    you have a really good way of telling it like it is ben. nice synopsis of what i consider, the team’s biggest weakness.

    • Axl

      I think my description was better…but it hurts like a slap in the face so people avoid it..

      • Whitey14

        Yeah, that or people usually don’t tend to like giving credit to the guy who is breaking his arm from patting himself on the back…

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