Aug
09

But I don’t want it to be over

By

Before the players even reported for spring training, we all knew that 2013 would prove a challenging season for the Yankees. A rash of injuries and setbacks in April only worsened the situation. Yet the team, largely on the back of the pitching staff, persevered through those challenges. After defeating the Rays on May 25, they owned the second-best record in the AL and sat atop the AL East at 30-18.

From there it has been all downhill.

Since then the Yankees are 27-38 with a -49 run differential. In the AL that’s only better than the White Sox and the Astros. Even the Blue Jays, still in the AL East cellar, have played over .500 ball since that date.

The easy narrative is that the pitching staff, which propped up the Yanks through those first 48 games (they allowed the second fewest runs in the AL, 3 behind Texas), fell apart in June, July, and now August. To a degree that’s true. In the first 48 games they allowed 3.73 runs per game, as opposed to 4.13 in the 65 games since. That amounts to 26 runs in those 65 games, which would have led to at least a few more wins.

Yet it is the offensive drop-off that has killed the 2013 Yankees. In those first 48 games they scored 4.33 runs per game, far from the best in the league but at least adequate given the stellar pitching. In the last 65 games they have scored nearly one fewer run per game. That amounts to fewer than every other team in the AL — by 19 runs — and is topped (bottomed?) only by the Giants with 210 runs since then. In other words, the offense was below average, but adequate, to start the season. It has evolved into a unit that the 1991 team might recognize.

These are the facts of the situation. After performing well to start the season — performing well without Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Kevin Youkilis, among others — the team has completely fallen off a cliff. At this point there is little, if any, hope that they turn it around. Last month they needed at least two bats, plus the healthy return of their own players, to have a chance. What they got was another player in his late 30s who is under contract for next year. And that’s it.

(As an aside, the Soriano trade does irk me a bit. If he were one of two or three moves made before the deadline, when improvements might have made a significant difference, that’s one thing. But to acquire him and only him makes the trade feel like a complete waste. Corey Black might be no shining star, but you wouldn’t up and release him, would you? Yet they ended up giving him away for a player who won’t help the team win in 2013, and stands little chance of helping in 2014. I really wish the Yanks had waited until the 31st to move on Soriano, and would have declined to do so after seeing that there were no other moves to make. Then again, apparently this was an ownership move. Hooray!)

We’re right to hope for miracles, but we’re also right to step back and see the team for what it has become. In order to make up the seven — seven! — games that sit between Yanks and the Rangers/A’s, they’ll need literally everything to come together immediately. That includes Robinson Cano getting hot, A-Rod and Granderson hitting their strides, Derek Jeter to successfully return, David Adams to prove a competent platoon partner with Lyle Overbay (or they could acquire Mark Reynolds for the same effect), Vernon Wells to keep hitting like he has since July 1, and significant performance improvements from Ichiro and Soriano. It might even involve Travis Hafner coming back and hitting like he did in April.

At the same time, it would involve CC Sabathia righting the ship, Andy Pettitte showing that he’s not completely washed up, Ivan Nova continuing his impressive run since being recalled, and David Phelps successfully returning from his two forearm strains*. I’ll take a moment while you step back and ponder all that.

*I could say it also involves Phil Hughes pitching consistently well, but the man is in the bottom 10 percent of qualified AL starters in terms of ERA for the last three years. Even if you add in 2010, he’s still in the bottom 10 percent. I’m willing to root for miracles, but I have to remain somewhat realistic.

Some of that might end up as the best case scenario. But that’s not enough for the 2013 Yankees. They need at least 80 percent of those events to reach their best cases, and even 80 percent might not be enough. How many times in the past have we seen this many things go well, all in sync, for a team that has played so poorly? Even in 2011, the Rays had played far better baseball at this point than the Yankees have, and needed plenty of help to get back in.

I want to hope. I really do. The April-May Yankees were downright fun to watch. It wasn’t always pretty, but they came back late in games, showed some guile, and got some phenomenal starting pitching efforts (even a few from Mr. Hughes). Since then, though, they’ve done little but let us down. I don’t want to give up on the season, but considering the hefty obstacles that face this team if it wants to crawl back into the race, it’s perhaps better for my mental health if I do.

Categories : Musings
  • Eric

    In total agreement

  • Rod

    If there was crying in baseball, this would be the time for it.

  • stuart a

    if hughes has been a bottom 10% pitcher in the AL over the last few years why would they qualify him?

    I like the SOriano move. FInancial costs is minimal and I am assuming Wells will not be on the team next season…He can still hit homers and hitting 7th or so would be a +…

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I agree that Sori will probably prove more useful than Wells next season. It’s boggles the mind that Wells is still stuck at 10 HRs.

      • trr

        Basically Wells is having the same type of year as last year.
        And yes, I think Soriano will have more playing time, much more impact than Wells next year. In fact I would expect Wells to be DFA’d at some point next year.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I wouldn’t mind one bit if he didn’t even make it to next season. He’ll have little role as is, even with the question marks.

        • stuart a

          i say do it in the offseason if you do not want to do it now. he costs the Yankees nothing next year…

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Very fair assessment. I don’t disagree here. I hope, and I act positive because, really, I don’t want to sit here and just read 100% negativity, but the fighting chance I thought they had a couple of weeks ago is probably akin to extreme Hail Mary from your own ten-yard line today.

    If someone, for their own mental health, needs to take a step back, that’s fine. This franchise will make you proud again soon, and there are silver linings here to be proud of. This collection of cast-offs and cast-off-offs has hung in there longer than most thought. I can say that, for myself, I honestly don’t need to. It always felt like a tough fight this season for me, and that always came with the realization that it’s a fight the team might lose.

    To answer the question posed in Mike’s chat….is this how Cubs fans feel? Be fucking thankful every day you even get to ask that question, son. No, it isn’t. My father-in-law is a Cubs fan, and he still resents Ernie Banks for lying to him in the 50’s. He’s still waiting for the championship Ernie promised him.

    • Pat D

      Question: How dare you besmirch Mr. Cub?

      Answer: Duh, rings!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        And thus a new name is born. Jagelio at third! Re-sign Melky!

        • fat jeter

          hopefully duh, rings can consistently put together a 40 million dollar payroll and call us all bitches for not seeing the big picture

  • jim p

    A week or so ago, someone was kind enough to look up Yanks’ “Productive Outs” stats. We’re miserable. At or near the bottom in moving runners up a base. My anecdotal impression “men on 2nd and 3rd, none/one out followed by popups and strikeouts” seems true.

    I’m certain we’d have won a few more games if we’d just got the bloody runners over a base at an average pace.

    Okay, we haven’t had average or above hitters for most of the year, but still I think some of that has to be on Joe and Long. Geez, lay down a bunt, take a few pitches till you get a good one…

    I guess patience and pitch-recognition can’t be taught, but damn, can’t they be learned?

    And PS: when did the League rule that a 3-1 pitch MUST be swung at?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I don’t know if an extra bunt here and there would have helped one bit. There were times, when I saw runners at first and second, when I thought the best chance the team had of bringing them over was to petition MLB for three extra outs that inning, not losing one to a sac bunt. :)

      On Joe and Long? Sure…..10% of that. The players holding those bats need to be good enough to even execute what you want them to, and there were moments this season that it wasn’t just 7-9 that looked sad, it was anyone batting after Robbie in the lineup.

      That they hung on as long as they did for the reinforcements that came too late, or didn’t come at all, is a testament for much they were actual able to do.

  • Robert

    There is no more fight in this team.Time to evaluate the talent for next year.
    Time to prioritize playing time for any position player under 30.
    Look at it this way we can rest all the elder statesman so they will be fresh for 2014.
    Bring up JR Murphy and Slade the only 2 position players at AA and AAA who could help next year.

    • trr

      I don’t know if we can say there’s no more fight in them. They’re just a mediocre team that’s been beset by age and injuries this year leaving too many holes to fill. I love hustle and desire and fight but it’s just not enough. You gotta have the horses, too.
      Not sure is Murph and Slade are quite ready yet (though they could cetainly get a cup of coffee call-up in Sept), but this team needs to shed some age. Next year is not gonna be pretty at this rate

  • Lukaszek

    All good things come to an end. Better to burn out than fade away

    • trr

      ’cause rust never sleeps
      My My, Hey Hey

    • Mondesi

      All we are is dust in the wind. Like sands of the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

    • I’m One

      I hope I die before I get old.

  • Yogi Berra

    It ain’t over till it’s over.

  • fat jeter

    Pretty much the perfect synopsis. Well stated.

  • Robert

    2015 do we attempt to sign Garza,Lincium,Morales,McCann,Elsberry or Choo??
    Or due we stand pat and hope for the fountain of youth to sprinkle the elders???

    Jeter to Third is a must!I think if healthy he could hit .300 and playing DH/3B will keep him healthy.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      That would be 2014, as well as a grammar tutor.

    • Lukaszek

      I’m all for Morales, Choo, or Ellsbury. Pass on McCann because I know he’s probably gonna be overvalued, and we have a lot of catchers in the farm system. I mean, out of Murphy, O’Brien, and Sanchez, you gotta figure that one can develop into a major leaguer. Lincecum is a “maybe”.

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores

    Meh, to be honest with you, I’m disappointed but taking it personally better than I thought. Individual games frustrate me to no end, but as a whole? Eh, it was bound to happen eventually. Hopefully the Yanks can pull of a Red Sox style firesale and come back stronger next year.

    But let Cano go. Long, expensive contracts to aging players whose main value comes from bat speed and durability, the two abilities most likely to decline in age, is a bad idea. We REALLY should have learned our lesson after A-Rod, Pujols, and Hamilton.

  • lee

    here’s what’s really depressing. EVEN IF they could replicate their 30-18 season start for the remainder of the year, that puts them at 87-88 wins, which ain’t going to get them into the playoffs. could they maybe improve a couple of games on that start? remember that their Pythagenpat for that start was only 26 wins, so they were extremely lucky just to get those 30 wins. so to make the playoffs they would really have to improve something like 5-6 wins over that 30-18 start. just ain’t going to happen. time to move on.

  • Eddard

    It’s over. You’re not going to make the playoffs when you only have a chance to win 2 out of every 5 ballgames. They have a chance to win tonight with Nova on the mound but they have absolutely no chance to beat Verlander and Sanchez. And you’ll notice that Hiroki and Nova practically have to throw a shutout just to give the team a chance to win 1-0. They’ll be lucky to finish .500

  • OldYanksFan

    Please excuse me if this is a bit off-topic, but this is one of the clearest articles I read on the issue.

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/.....uez-appeal

    Mark Cuban also went off on Bud… calling his treatment of ARod ‘Horrible’.

    And reading comments in this and other articles, it’s amazing how many anti-ARod people are beginning to take his side in this.

  • stuart a

    he makes a ton of money thru next year…

  • stuart a

    why no word on Zoilo?

    The guy has been out for more then a month with a sprained ankle.

    anyone have info on his status???

  • cr1

    There was a day when I thought maybe I would step back, just for the rest of this season. I think it was the combination of Al’s barf-worthy turn before the cameras with a period of hopeless play. Maybe if they hadn’t coincided so closely I would never have had this thought. By the next day it was gone. Decades of fandom won out.

    But it made me understand that others might really do it, and that it would not indicate a lesser devotion to the team.

  • Greg

    57-56; 49 games left. Will take 90 to make playoffs. Is anyone believing that the Yankees are going 33-16 rest of the way?

    • I’m One

      No guarantee it’ll take 90 wins to make the playoffs. It could be less.

      That said, no, I don’t think the Yankess will make it this season. As someone else stated, years of fandom win out and I’ll still be keeping a very close eye on this season, next, the one after that, regardless of how good or bad the team may be.

  • LarryM Fl

    I still enjoy the games. No I do not believe this roster can bring home a playoff spot. You may ask where is the enjoyment? To me its watching the guys wearing the Yankee uniform performing as best that they can to win games. I enjoy watching Romine, Adams, all the younger players trying to improve and be consistent. I enjoy Mo, Robbie, Gardner all them as flawed as they may be trying to win games. I hope the FO makes no moves unless that move will bring a player who has a long term affect upon the roster in a positive sense.

    What disturbs me is having no sense of the plan that the Yankees want to bring to the table. We all speculate about the 189 and 2014 as being another bad year as Yankee bad years are labeled. Is 2015 going to be break the bank year? I wish that I knew but I understand why we do not know.

    All I want at this point is a .500 or better record.

    Go Yanks sweep the Tigers put a hurting on them as they did to us in October.

  • Mike R.

    It figures that I’ve waited my entire life for my Islanders to right the ship which coincided with two decades of great baseball for the Yankees.

    Now they seem to be going in opposite directions. Oh well, it was a great run, time to move on.

  • Mike HC

    On to football season … Sanchez and Geno will surely make me wish for the days of rooting for a .500 team.

  • Scott

    This team will not make playoffs. Maybe we can still derive joy from some of the AAA and AAAA players on the team. Maybe we can also send plans in to Cashman and company, so at least they have one.

  • natcole

    Now Phelps and Pineda just had setback. Nuno was hurt, too. Adam Warren was not pitching as well as he used to be earlier this season.

    OK, so where is the depth?

    Despite the two bad outings for blue jays, CMW had pitched 97 innings at 3A level with 2.88 ERA. The pitcher in Scranton who has the closest ERA is Bootcheck at 3.9.

    The funny thing is that Blue Jays are having their injured pitchers coming back. Wang did not have much chance.

    Maybe it’s not a bad idea to rent CMW from Blue Jays for the depth…