The Yankees are in the midst of a brutal 33-games-in-32-days stretch including their just-completed final West-coast-swing of 2011. They've lost 5 of their last 8 games, including three one-run losses in extra innings (one of them at 2:00 am) and a fourth one-run loss on a bottom of the 9th sac fly by Izturis out in LA.
They are tired, rather beaten up, and probably more than a little eager to get back to New York. But they've got to go through Toronto first. And yet spirits are high — the foul wind blowing from New England in recent weeks has bought the Yankees some breathing room and as a result they maintain the largest 1st place lead that any team has had in the AL East this season. But they're still far from closing anything out. So the return of their clean-up hitter this weekend should be a cause for renewed energy and a strong push to the finish line, right? Not so much.
Apparently, A-Rod's thumb is likely to be a problem through the post-season. This whole season has been a mediocre one at best for A-Rod who has played in only 90 games and – in those games – has compiled a .284 BA and his worst OPS (.843) since 1995. Debates about what this - combined with last season's meager showing by A-Rod (yeah he got his 30 HR and 125 RBIs but his rate-stats were all the lowest he'd logged in any complete season in his career) - all means can be expected, but those debates can wait until the off-season. Right now the question is what to do with A-Rod when he returns, which Girardi says will likely be today but A-Rod doubts: "I haven't touched a bat in five days…Maybe (Girardi) is more confident than me. Hopefully, that plan works out." (Nice to be on the same page fellas.)
The Yanks offense is doing fine with Cano slotted into the clean-up spot and it should be clear to everyone now that he is best suited on this team to fill that role. It seems that backing Cano with any combo of Teix/A-Rod/Swisher would be just fine – they are frankly interchangeable in my mind with A-Rod being hte least dangerous from a power-hitting perspective right now. The 2011 version of A-Rod should not see the clean-up spot again. The Yanks haven't shored anything up yet and they've got a ton of games left against the Rays and Red Sox. So welcome back A-Rod – now please slot into the lower half of the order without any fuss, OK?