Saturday, August 30, 2008

Top 5 non A-Rod reasons that this Yankee team is not postseason bound

I wanted to wait to write this post until the Yankees lost a truly sickening game. Thankfully/regrettably, today's 7-6 loss to the Jays was such a defeat. The Yankee's bullpen, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, allowed 5 runs over the final 3 innings. However, an A-Rod double play in the 9th and a Cano error on a sure double play ball in the 7th did not help the beleaguered bullpen. So without further adieu............

(1) Injuries to Wang and Joba-Although the offense has been atrocious this season (more on that soon) you would have to say that when a team loses its #1 and #2 starter, it is awfully tough to make the playoffs. In past season the Yankees have had shoddy starting pitching but could always rely on perennial 19 game winner Chien-Ming Wang to be the steadying force in the rotation. When he went down in mid June for the season; the Yankees were in trouble. But just as Wang was lost for the year, Joba began to assert himself as a dominant starting pitcher. He was learning "how to pitch" by starting off with low 90's fast balls and 2 seamers and then began to dial it up in later innings as the situations in the game became more crucial. However, in the middle of a start in early August in Texas, the Yankee's ace in the making succumbed to shoulder tendinitis. He has not pitched in a game since. As great as Mussina has been this year, Pettite has been awful in far too many starts this season, particularly against Boston, and Ponson and Rasner are just not any good. As great as Mussina has been this year, he does not have the dominating stuff and intimidating presence of Joba. But hey, at least we got Pavano....

(2) The Trade of Farnsworth for Pudge: I am the first to admit this trade excited me. I knew that Pudge was no longer the hall of fame catcher he had been in years past but he filled a void that the injury to Posada created (more on that later). Furthermore, the bullpen had been the strength of the team to that point as Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras had been dominant much of the season so Farnsworth seemed expendable. But this trade has proven disastrous in 3 critical ways: (1) Pudge has done a horrendous job with the relief pitchers. Veras and Edwar Ramirez were excellent in the first half of the season when they were largely being caught by Jose Molina. Both had sub 3 eras before the all star break. Both have been atrocious since the break (Pudge was traded for only 10 days or so after the break) posting 5+ eras. (2) Farnsworth had a nearly perfect July posting a paltry 0.91 WHIP and 2.16 era. He had become the 8th inning anchor in the bullpen and Veras had become the 7th inning stalwart. Trading away Kyle completely destroyed the chemistry of the VerFarnsMo trio. (3) Pudge has been a downright pitiful offense player since he has joined the Yankees. Entering today's game he was 10 for his first 53 as a Yankee good for a below 200 batting average. I'm not suggesting that Molina is too much better offensively but he has done a far superior job defensively and the pitchers seem to trust him far more than Pudge.

(3) Jason Giambi: Giambi has had a very A-Rodian season. He has fairly good power numbers and a high on-base Percentage. However 18 of his 27 home runs have been of the solo variety and he has done miserably in the clutch only amassing a .200 batting average with runners in scoring position. It is a glaring indictment on your team's power guys when your 1-3 hitters all are around 300 and you are only middle of the pack offensively. In every season starting in 2005, either Giambi or A-Rod has carried the team offensively. In 2005 and 2007 A-Rod won MVPs and in 2006 Giambi had a phenomenal season. This is the first year where neither guy has had a great year and it has cost the team dearly.

(4) Robinson Cano- Devo will point out to you, as he has to me, that Cano is only our 7th or 8th hitter. This may be true, but the Yankees paid him handsomely this past off-season with the expectation that Cano would continue to be a .300 hitter and would develop a stronger batting eye and power swing. I keep hearing that he is a future 3 hitter, but I do not want Cano anywhere near the three hole! He has a horrid .310 on base percentage and takes till August to warm up (he hit .246 prior to the all star break). Furthermore, his complacency in the field, in spite of his brilliant abilities, is downright nauseating. Today he made a lazy flip to Jeter on a sure double play ball which sailed horribly low and wide leading to a 3 run inning which ultimately cost New York the game. He has made plays like this all season irritating the Yankee faithful. Cano needs to stop acting like a kid and start showing the game and the Yankees organization the respect they deserve. You are a high paid star now; act like it!

(5) Jorge Posada's season ending injury: This has received little attention as a cause for the Yankees relatively poor play this year. However, Jorge, more than Jeter, has been the emotional and fiery leader on this team for the better part of the past 8 seasons. His ability to work with younger pitchers and call a game, coupled with his offensive prowess as a switch hitting power hitter, makes him an indispensable player on this team. Molina has done a great job defensively but he can't replace Jorge's all around game. I remember saying to White Boy Senior after an exciting 14-9 win over the hated Angels earlier this month, "It's nice that we got this game but this team isn't going anywhere without Jorge". I wish I was wrong but sadly I was right. I can only hope that he comes back in April as good as new both defensively and at the plate so my favorite team does not have another sub-par season in 2009.

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