Tuesday, May 13, 2008


IT AIN'T OVER till it’s over but the way things are going, it might be an idea to bring the bulldozers into Yankee Stadium six months early to remove $200 million worth of rubbish.

For so long the team everyone feared, the New York Yankees are turning into the soft touch of the American League East.

Just staying at .500 has become a major struggle – and it’s not all down to injuries and pitching problems.

Pundits who were predicting the Yankees would hit between 950 and 1,000 runs this season are no doubt revising their figures. So far, they have scored 168 runs in 39 games, which puts them on course for just under 700.

Of course, a lot of that is due to the continued absence of Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. Any club would be severely handicapped by the absence of their best batter and inspirational catcher.

Good teams, however, find a way to win in adversity. The senior players step up to the plate. And in the Yanks case, that just isn’t happening.

They’re still carrying two everyday players with a batting average under .200 – Jason Giambi (.177) and Robinson Canó (.188). Shelly Duncan, a player manager Joe Girardi was hoping he could rely on off the bench, is hitting .194.

If you’re not hitting, then you’re relying on pitching. Chien-Ming Wang is doing just fine; Mike Mussina has managed to turn his early-season form around; Darrell Rasner has won both his starts.

Pettitte has fallen short of expectations so far

Andy Pettitte, however, is not performing like a No. 2 starter. His 3-4 record and an ERA of 4.40 hardly justifies the $16 million the Yankees are paying him this season.

Pettitte is still regarded as a “big game pitcher.” Right now, the Yanks need him to be an “every game pitcher.”

Just how many more chances is Kei Igawa going to get? Surely it’s time the Yanks cut their losses and accepted he is never going to make a Major League pitcher. 

Right now, the starting rotation is like the Keystone Cops. Ian Kennedy makes one good start in Triple-A and he’s called back up. It’s no different in the bullpen. In two months, Chris Britton has been up and down no fewer than six times!

But perhaps the most worrying – and depressing – trend is that the Yankees are now a team you can kick when they’re down.

If they’re not ahead by the sixth or seven inning, forget it. They can blow a lead but they sure can’t overcome a deficit late in the game. That famous fighting spirit seems to be missing from the current line-up. 

Maybe it’s time for Girardi to start making some unpopular decisions. Losing is bad enough but when you start waving the white flag against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning, enough is enough.

The challenge facing the team is to keep the Yankees in contention until A-Rod and Posada are fit to return. Right now, they don’t look up to it.

And with a Subway Series against the Mets coming up this weekend, the hurt may have only just begun.

No comments: