For the Yankees, in realistic terms, it means that the bullpen is one inning weaker. But also being realistic, the bullpen is the one area that can afford the hit. Even one inning weaker for the Yankee bullpen means a very strong unit out there. If push came to shove, Phil Hughes could easily make up that inning. Of course, we will have to debate the issue of sticking with Hughes in the rotation first. Much more pressing are the injuries to the outfield that have put the Yankees in a roster bind and have caused them to use far inferior players both defensively and offensively for the last week and for who knows how much longer.
In a long season, three straight losses is a drop in the proverbial bucket. A hot streak can erase such things from memory. What is perhaps being exposed is a team that lacks depth in position players. Perhaps only Joe Girardi and Tim McCarver may believe in Eduardo Nunez‘s potential. Eric Chavez is out. So the Yankees are left with the Jayson Nix players of the world. Creaky Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez in the outfield are exposed for what they are after watching Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner consistently make the plays out there. We are talking about role players suddenly having to be sole players. It doesn’t work.
Losing Mariano Rivera certainly bites. It bites as a fan and it bites for his lost inning of work. But of greater concern is the continued struggles of Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano who cannot take up the slack of having to use inferior players when other regulars go down. There are continued concerns with the rotation, this current roster problem and the so-far, total absence of Cano doing what Cano usually does. But does Rivera’s injury and these other concerns bring panic? Of course not. This is a strong and talented team that will still win its share of games. Mid-season moves will be made. There is no sense kicking the chair until the team is mathematically eliminated in September. And it is way too early to believe that will ever happen.