Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Yankees (Part I): What went wrong...

The Yankees are done. There you go, I said it. You might remember a few posts back when I refused to say that the Yankees were done, I had seen them come back too many times before. But have no fear fellow Mets/Red Sox/baseball fans, the Yankee run is finally over...and here's why.

Without a doubt, the Yankees glaring weakness this season has been getting the clutch hit. The Yanks have had no problem getting on base this season (.344 team OBP), but when Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi hit .255 and .214 respectively with runners in scoring position, you can understand why the Yankees are only 7th in the AL in runs. The Yankees needed more production from their 4 and 5 hitters this season, but they failed to produce.

2. Starting Pitching
When you have to depend on Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson for quality starts down the stretch, it tells you two things. Firstly, the Yankees need to upgrade their pitching depth up and down their organization. It is simply unacceptable that a team with a $200 million dollar payroll has to depend on these guys for important starts. With all of the pitching injuries these days, it is very important to have quality 6 and 7 starters to fill the void when they are needed.
Secondly, this tells us that the Yankees have had a ton of starters go down. Between Philip Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, and Chien Ming Wang going down, it is hard to blame the Yankees for not having success this season. However, I think that the Yankees should have had a better backup plan in case either of these guys failed to perform or got hurt. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they never developed a solid contingency plan, and thus were stuck in $200 million dollar mediocrity.

3. Matsui, A-Rod, Posada
How many teams can still make the playoffs without their left fielder for 3 months, their catcher for 4 months, and the 2007 MVP for a month? Probably none. And even though Posada played parts of this season, he was never truly "right" and was more of a hindrance than a help.

4. Cano and Melky
Both of these guys were viewed as rising stars by Yankee brass before the season and were viewed as the "young energy" that this aging Yankee team needed. However, both have been massive failures this season. After hitting .306 last season and .342 in 2006, Cano has bottomed out this season to the tune of a .268 batting average and has looked indifferent to playing defense. Oh yeah, and the Yankees gave him a $30 mil extension during the offseason. Yikes.
Cabrera began this season with a great April, but has not looked the same since at the plate and now currently resides in AAA. He will be nothing more than a fourth outfielder and another victim of the NY media hype.

5. Old Guys
Simply put, this team is very old and it is no surprise that they have sustained injuries and major drop offs in production. The Yankees play a very slow brand of baseball and lack the passion or speed of the Angels, Red Sox, and Rays. I'm not saying that they don't want to win, but any baseball fan can see the youth on those teams play a faster up tempo game that has eluded the Yankees all season. Youth is the new trend in the MLB and the Yankees need to forget the longball and stars and put new resources into developing young talent to match the best teams in the AL.

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