This Offense Is Offensive

There’s no need to sugarcoat it anymore.  It’s a scientific fact at this point, why try holding out hope that it’s going to turn around?  This offense sucks.  It sucks and it sucks hard.  Whether you want to blame ownership, Cashman, or both, we can all be unified in agreement that this performance from the lineup night in and night out is just pathetic.  Each game brings a new low, and the numbers and anecdotes to prove it are starting to get frightening.  Reid Brignac isn’t OPSing CC’s playing weight.  Vernon Wells may have inadvertently started the takeover of the machines.  Francisco Cervelli is the team wOBA leader right now, by a wide margin, and he hasn’t played a game since April 26th.  Alberto Gonzalez is statistically the team’s best offensive shortstop.

The rest of the roster hasn’t been holding up its end of the deal as well as it was earlier in the season, but this lineup is so inept that the team is basically done as soon as they give up 3 runs these days.  That’s no way to try to be competitive at the Major League level let alone try to win games, and it certainly appears to the trained eye that it’s starting to take its toll on everybody.  The cupboard is so bare that Joe is starting to throw the binder and the matchups out the window when making his lineup cards and that’s about the most un-Joe thing he could do.

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Keeping The Good Ship Yankee Afloat

The Yankees picked up a win yesterday afternoon, salvaging a small piece of pride from this West Coast trip and giving themselves something to build on for the next homestand.  As was the case during their recent losing streak, they won in rather frustrating fashion, getting out early and coasting through 8 innings before watching their bullpen aces almost give away a 6-run lead in the 9th.  Had they lost that game we’d be looking at a threat level red meltdown this morning, so it was nice to avoid that.  It’s also nice to know that, despite the brutal offensive performance and continued injury problems, the Yanks come home just 2 games back in the loss column in the AL East and tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

The “just tread water until the regulars come back” plan has fallen apart rapidly with the return trips to the DL for C-Grand and Kevin Youkilis and Teix’s latest setback with his wrist, and now the Yanks are looking at Francisco Cervelli as the new earliest guy back sometime after the All Star Break.  They’re going to have to keep trying to find a way to win with the roster as presently constructed, which will be no small task if the last few weeks are any indication.  Here are a few things that need to happen to keep them competitive and in the hunt.

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First Rough Stretch Officially Reached

Nix E vs NYM

Well here we are.  The low point of the season to date has been reached.  The Yankees wake up this morning losers of 4 straight games, games they were outscored 21-9 in, and 6 of their last 8.  They’ve looked absolutely putrid in those 4 games, on the mound, at the plate, and in the field.  For the first time this season they have the appearance and accompanying performance of the cobbled together, replacement-level mess they were expected to be.  The quick gust of wind that was blown in the team’s sails when Curtis Granderson returned to the lineup has been snuffed out by his re-injury, and tonight the boys will try to wake up out of their funk in time to not get swept out of town by the effing Mets.

The results aren’t even as frustrating as the level of play that’s created them.  When a team, even the Mets, beats your best pitchers for 1-run wins you just tip your cap and move on.  But when “defense first” catcher Chris Stewart is letting passed balls get by, and starters aren’t making it out of the 1st inning, and Robinson Cano is swinging at balls up at his eyes, and Jayson Nix is booting routing double play balls, and nobody wants to try to take a pitch or work a count despite their slump, that’s not bad luck.  That’s bad baseball.

This is all very frustrating to be sure.  You’re lying to yourself as a person and a Yankee fan if you say otherwise.  It’s also not unexpected at all.  We’ve known for weeks now that this team was greatly overachieving any expectations we had for it before the season started.  While we’ve enjoyed the first 50-game ride and gotten to like this weird rag-tag bunch, we’ve always known in the back of our minds that this was always a possibility and the likely endgame for this group.  That the carriage would turn back into a pumpkin.  It was just a matter of when.  That question is starting to be answered right now and as tough as it is to watch there’s really no reason to panic, just like there wasn’t the first time Stacey told you not to.

Keep in mind that the Yankees are a pair of normal D-Rob/Mo appearances away from being 2-2 in their last 4 games.  Their method this season, however inexplicable it is that it’s working, is still working.  They’re still in plenty of ballgames, they’re still getting relatively good pitching, and they still have chances to win even as the darkness of regression settles over some of the new acquisitions.  As Harvey Dent once said, the night is darkest just before the dawn.  And my friends, I promise you the dawn is coming.  Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are coming.  Andy Pettitte is coming.  Michael Pineda is coming.  C-Grand, Francisco Cervelli, and maybe even those 2 old guys on the left side of the infield will be back.  The cavalry is still on its way and the Yanks are still in great position in the battle for the AL East.

Losing games is never a good thing, no matter how much Michael Kay wants to try to trick us into thinking it is.  But this recent patch of losing is no cause for panic in Yankeeland.  There’s a lot of season left, a lot of player upgrades to be made, and last night’s loss just means tonight is another chance to start a new winning streak.  It’s all good.

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The Yankees’ Wild 2013 Ride Keeps Rolling Along

Nix Overbay vs KC

Today should be fun, huh?  After starting off their “8 in 7” road trip with a 2-1 series win in Colorado and a 3-game sweep in KC, the surging Yankees will stop off in Cleveland today on their way back home for a doubleheader to make up for last month’s rainouts.  They were 2-4 when they first came to Cleveland 5 weeks ago and used the first 2 games of that series to kickstart their season, winning both by a combined score of 25-7.  Since then the Yanks have gone 19-9, ascended to the top of the division, and silenced nearly all the critics who said they’d be done after suffering their rash of ST injuries, this extended stretch of success being driven by some of the players most expected to flop as full-time injury replacements.  Now they’ll come back to where the season really started, even more injured and worn down than they were last time, and they’ll do it with a 5-game winning streak in their pocket.

The Yanks will send David Phelps and Vidal Nuno to the mound for today’s starts, not exactly household names when you think of the New York Yankee starting rotation.  They have a combined 13 career starts between them, all of them Phelps’, and would not be in the rotation right now were it not for Ivan Nova.  Phelps took over Nova’s spot in the rotation after Nova hit the disabled list with triceps inflammation a few weeks ago; Nuno gets the start tonight in place of Nova, who felt some tightness in his left side playing catch yesterday and will likely spend a little more time on the DL.  Nuno has made just 1 appearance since being called up and tonight will be his first career Major League start.  Not exactly standard practice for a first career start, but then again, what’s been standard about this season so far?

Backing one or both of them up will be Adam Warren, another Triple-A starter who was forced into bullpen duty because of all the injury problems.  Backing him up will be Brett Marshall, who has zero Major League experience but is scheduled to pitch today and he could be called upon for the second game in a pinch.  If he’s not needed as the doubleheader 26th man, that job will probably go to Corban Joseph, a lefty swinging second base prospect who’s only around because the team’s infield depth is a dead zone.  Jayson Nix and Chris Nelson haven’t been making anybody forget about Jeter and A-Rod, no matter how much Bob Klapisch tries to convince us otherwise, and Eduardo Nunez was placed on the DL this weekend, opening up another roster spot for a Triple-A filler piece in Alberto Gonzalez.  Seriously, Alberto Gonzalez, Chris Nelson, Chris Stewart, Ben Francisco, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno, and Preston Claiborne are all on the Yankees’ active roster today.  And the team is 10 games over .500.  Think about that.

To add to the entertaining chaos that is this team right now, consider that its 2 best relief pitchers, D-Rob and Mo, come into today’s doubleheader each having pitched in 4 of the last 5 days and may not be available for one or both of the games today.  Or that Vernon Wells, arguably the most criticized of all the offseason additions, is currently second among all AL outfielders in fWAR (1.4) behind only Mike Trout.  Or that they might get Curtis Granderson back sometime this week, as he’s already completed 4 of what was reported to be a 3-4 game rehab assignment in Triple-A.  There’s been no shortage of talking points, concerns, or intrigue surrounding this club in the first 6 weeks of the season.  They aren’t sexy, they haven’t always looked sharp, but they’ve gotten the job done and there’s been something fun and entertaining about the way they’ve done it.  Today’s doubleheader will just be the latest example. Continue reading The Yankees’ Wild 2013 Ride Keeps Rolling Along

Buster Olney’s Keys To The Yankees’ Season Are Accurate, Surprisingly Predictable

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) I’m a Buster Olney fan.  I think he’s one of the best baseball reporters in the business, if not the best, and take his information and thoughts on the Yankees more seriously than probably any other beat writer or MSM reporter.  That’s why I was a little surprised to find that Olney’s “What Yankees need to go right in ’13” Friday morning blog post (Insider Only) was so ordinary.  It’s not that anything he said was wrong or untrue, it’s just that a lot of it seemed so obvious and Continue reading Buster Olney’s Keys To The Yankees’ Season Are Accurate, Surprisingly Predictable

Did Having To Play All The Way Through The Regular Season Hurt The Yankees?

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) Yesterday The other day I made a comment on our daily TYA email chain that it seemed like most of the blogopshere was caught in a no man’s land when it came to Yankee coverage now that the season was over.  The combination of such a one-sided postseason exit with what was otherwise a very strong season seems to have put everybody in a situation where they aren’t quite ready to go back and fully review 2012 and also aren’t quite ready to let it go and start looking towards Continue reading Did Having To Play All The Way Through The Regular Season Hurt The Yankees?

How Are We Supposed To Feel As Yankee Fans Right Now?

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) I was really looking forward to this post.  I was fully prepared to write a Kate Hudson in “Almost Famous”-style, “it’s all happening” post about the recent turnaround and positive momentum the Yankees were building at the right time as they headed into the final handful of regular season games against their 2 divisional doormats.  They had won 13 of 19 games, maintained sole custody of the AL East lead, shaved their playoff magic number down to less than a hand’s worth of digits, and were getting healthier by the Continue reading How Are We Supposed To Feel As Yankee Fans Right Now?

Some Stretch Run Concerns

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) I’ve already thrown a Grade-A AB4AR jinx on the Yankees’ playoff hopes once this season, and I’ve learned my lesson.  I’ve been taking very careful steps to not mention the “P” word like its a foregone conclusion again as we come down the homestretch of the 2012 regular season, even as the Yankees have turned things around, and I’m certainly not going to do that here.  What I am going to do is touch on some things that the Yankees should be monitoring as they make their final sprint to the Continue reading Some Stretch Run Concerns

Let’s Take A Minute And Reset The Landscape

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) July was a bit of an eventful month, huh?  The Yankees ended it on a very rough 3-9 streak that saw them lose 6 games by 1 run right after starting the month 10-4 and looking like they were going to run away and hide with the division title sometime in early August.  They blew early leads, they blew late leads, and they made a couple comebacks that fell just short, all adding to a growing sense of frustration amongst the fans and some of the more pot-stirring writers.  Things Continue reading Let’s Take A Minute And Reset The Landscape