After last night’s 7-0 drubbing from the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York’s 2013 playoff hopes are one Yankee loss or one Indians win from coming to an end. But every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it’s the fact that way back in May, I totally called it. Below is a piece I wrote on May 30th, aptly titled, “The New York Yankees Are Screwed.” In the interest of keeping you entertained on this stroll down suppressed memory lane, I have taken the liberty of annotating the article to mark key points where I was totally right, and others where I was totally wrong. But, again, if there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s that I was mostly right. Oh, so very right.
The New York Yankees Are Screwed
Don’t believe me? The last time the Yankees lost three consecutive games to the New York Mets was in 2008, the summer of Shelley Duncan, Ivan Rodriguez, and a third place finish to Tampa Bay and the Boston Red Sox.1
The Yankees current roster features a similar mix of veteran cast-offs and no names, which to be fair, have performed admirably up to this point. With close to $100 million in talent on the DL, Brian Cashman’s savvy last minute pickups of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay paid massive dividends early, leading the team to first place in the division by early May.2 But as the month draws to a close, the Bombers have slipped to second place on the heels of a four game losing streak, and could easily find themselves looking up at Boston, Tampa and Baltimore by the end of next week.3
This should come as a surprise to no one. With the exception of Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and maybe Vernon Wells4, the majority of this starting lineup isn’t fit to start on any team, let alone the New York Yankees. Ichiro looks a lot like the player the Seattle Mariners were dying to get rid of, Jayson Nix can’t even fill Eduardo Nunez’s shoes – let alone Jeter’s – and Austin Romine5 has recorded a grand total of four hits and zero walks in thirty-seven too many at bats. When you’re screaming at the TV for Girardi to “get Chris Stewart in there!” your team is in serious trouble.
“But what about our DL All-Stars?” What about them. The two alleged difference makers closest to a return are Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixiera. Youkilis is coming off the worst season of his career, in which is .235 average and 51 base on balls made the Greek God Of Walks look mortal. As for Teixiera, his OPS has been on a steady decline since 2007, culminating in a relatively pedestrian line in 2012 that as of now, Lyle Overbay is on pace to replicate.6 Even if they both stay healthy after being inserted into the lineup, can they really be expected to make that much of a difference on the field or in the standings? As Estelle Costanza once said, “What’s to be gained?!”
That leaves Granderson, A-Rod and Jeter. Granderson is a glorified Adam Dunn with his 40+ homers and 200 K’s, and you’d be hard pressed to call Dunn a star.7 A-Rod is A-Bust and Jeter, while consistently defying the odds and his age, likely won’t get back in time to salvage the season. Not with Pettitte’s inability to stay healthy, C.C.’s inability to find his fastball and the Yankees’ inability to get a consistent start out of anyone other than Hiroki Kuroda.8
Here’s a prediction for you: The Yankees will not find themselves in first place for the rest of the season. They will miss out on the wild card and fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Prove me wrong, Reid Brignac.9
1: Order got switched up this season, but it is eerily familiar. Even though they’re only a wild card team, you could make the argument that this year’s Rays squad is even better than the pennant winning ’08 roster. The way they’re playing now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make the World Series and finish the job this time.
2: It may have been savvy at the time, but I think history has proven that Vernon Wells trade to be mediocre at best. True, he won the team some games early and came up with a few clutch hits late in the season, but the Yankees were betting that he’d return to form, and as his stats indicate, they bet wrong. I’ll elaborate more on this later, but it goes without saying that the Overbay signing is still the savviest of the savv’.
3: Still possible the Yankees finish fourth behind the O’s, but after that gruesome Machado injury and a Rays sweep, I don’t think those guys have any fight left in them. Here’s to speedy return by Manny, and no more of this nonsense against the Yankees.
4: “Maybe Vernon Wells” has been downgraded to “never Vernon Wells.” You may now switch from Nas to Biggie.
5: Romine actually started to come around offensively before suffering from that infectious injury bug. Assuming Cervelli continues his accursed streak of never playing, Austin could be a candidate for a starting job next season.
6: Overbay’s OPS ended up being over 100 points less than Teixera’s 2012 mark, so apologies to Marky Mark. Having said that, Overbay still did a hell of a job filling in this season, making his mark as far and away the team’s most clutch hitter. Had the Yanks qualified for the playoffs this season, he was poised to be 2013’s answer to Raul Ibanez. Speaking of which, why the hell did the Yankees let him go? The guy hit 29 homers this year!
7: Thought I might have been a little harsh on Curtis, but if you adjusted his stats to a full season of play, he’d have exactly as many K’s as Dunn, with less homers and a slightly higher average. All that aside, the guy plays great D and the Yankees would be wise to hold onto him after this season. I like the sound of a Soriano, Gardner, Granderson outfield.
8: Poor old Hiroki. Dude was a legitimate Cy Young candidate at the beginning of the year before inexplicably stinking up the joint in the second half. It’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees resign him next year, and if so, for how much.
9: The Yankees had 56 players on the roster this season. 56! Never a good sign. Oh, well. Here’s to 2014!