JOE GIRARDI still believes in the current New York Yankees. Well, Joe, I’ve got news for you. No one else does. Not even the players themselves.
Before the series against the Boston Red Sox, Girardi stated that the minimum requirement to keep the Yanks in the play-off picture was two out of three.
Yet after two humiliating losses to their bitter rivals, the delusional Girardi was still refusing to give up on either the season or his team.
Naturally, no manager is going to write off the year – publicly, at least – with 30 games still to go. But Girardi’s tired old line that “it ain’t over til it’s over” is beginning to grate.
For a man who has worked on the other side of camera, he has a lot to learn about dealing with the media. Girardi's reluctance to tell the whole truth about injuries and be honest about his players is unlikely to win him friends with the New York press. You can only fool some of the people some of the time...
Let’s face facts. Now seven games behind the Red Sox in the wild card standings, the Yanks are done. For the first time since 1993, there will be no October baseball in the Bronx. And just to rub salt in the wounds, the Yanks final three games of the season will be at Fenway Park. Three meaningless games...at least, for the away team.
Boston, the new “Evil Empire” of the East, has a chance to win the World Series for the third time in five years.
In stark contrast, it’s now eight years since the Yanks won a championship...and they’ve probably never been further away from winning No. 27.
Even allowing for the horrendous list of injuries, notably to their starting pitchers, this has to be the worst Yankees team of the last 15 years.
Young pitchers prove a bust
Much has been made of the pitching staff – and replacing a 19-game winner like Chien-Ming Wang is hard to do.
But let’s not forget that it was the choice of general manager Brian Cashman and the Yankee suits not to trade Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera to the Minnesota Twins for Johan Santana last winter.
Hughes and Kennedy have not managed to win a game between them this season and Cabrera’s form has been so bad that he’s now down in the minor leagues.
With Hughes (ERA 9.00) getting knocked around pitching for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on his return from injury, there has to be a serious doubt whether either he or Kennedy are going to make it at Major League level with the Yanks.
It all starts with pitching and no team sending Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson and Carl Pavano to the mound can be confident of winning consistently.
However, the truth of the matter is that the Yanks should have been able to hit their way out of the trouble and the batters must shoulder most of the blame.
Projected to score between 900 and 950 runs, they have managed only 638 in 132 games, and their situational hitting has been awful.
After his MVP season in 2007, Alex Rodriguez is once again the Bronx boo boy. His batting average of .310 belies the fact that he has contributed next to nothing to the team when it mattered most.
I couldn’t believe the statistic that he has scored just two RBIs in the eighth and ninth innings this season, but apparently it’s true.
Time to say goodbye to Giambi
It’s time to say thank you and goodbye to Jason Giambi. And while Bobby Abreu has been the Yanks’ best situational hitter this season, you have to question whether they should spend big money on resigning him at age 34. Like Johnny Damon, he’s a liability in the outfield.
Jorge Posada has proved impossible to replace…and not just behind the plate. José Molina is good defensively but he couldn’t compensate for Posada’s 20 home runs and 90 RBIs in 2007.
Neither could Pudge Rodriguez, who looked a good singing on paper but has proven to be a shadow of his former self.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland is nobody’s fool and while Kyle Farnsworth has hardly set the world alight for the Tigers, he would have been of more use to the Yanks than I-Rod.
Shaky starting pitching has forced Girardi to overuse the bullpen and it’s at this time of the year when it really begins to show.
So all in all, there’s much work to be done in the winter. The Yanks have a new stadium to play in next year. Now all they need is a new team.
Surely Andy Pettitte won’t be coming back in 2009 – he’s certainly not worth $16 million – so the Yanks will need to sign at least one, maybe even two, frontline pitchers.
The rotation will be based around Wang and Joba Chamberlain. Mike Mussina must pitch at least one more year. Hopefully, Hughes can redeem himself during spring training and at least prove a useful No. 4 or No. 5.
CC Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira will no doubt be at the top of the Yanks’ shopping list. They will have the money to outbid their rivals. Whether that’s enough to persuade either of them to come to New York remains to be seen.
Whatever happens, there’s nothing they can do about A-Rod other than hope that he straightens out his swing and his life by 2009.
Nine more years of booing is going to be tough on the ears.