The Yankees return home today after what we have to believe is an encouraging 11-game road trip against 2 division leaders and the slugging Rangers. They left on this grueling exercise with exactly two starting pitchers in the fold, and returned with 6 victories, including 3 against the Sox, and a brief stop in first place—we hope they will return to that position soon. Save for a few blown games at the tale end of the trip it could have been even better. Tomorrow the Twinkies arrive for yet another important series (think Wild Card), and then the Angels, and an opportunity for a bit of revenge. As for those Angels, they look good but hardly unbeatable. In an offensive league, they’re a pitching-and-defense team. So far the formula has worked. (Special props to uberutility man Chone Figgins).
Meanwhile, we feel compelled to comment on the amazing resurgence of Jason Giambi. We didn’t think he could do it. We’re glad for him (we wish no player ill) and especially for the Yankees that he has. That doesn’t mean we’ve become big Giambi fans, however. And we do note that it is only thanks to his (ill-gotten) monster contract that he was allowed the time to straigten out. This is a curious fact that has gone unremarked, but it’s the kind of thing that has prevented young Yankee players from rising and must also tick off a vet like Bernie Williams. The only thing that kept Giambi in the lineup on anything like a regular (even occassional) basis during the first half was his contract. For better or worse, no other player gets that kind of opportunity. On the Yankees, the formula has always been, produce immediately or you’re gone. The younger the player, the shorter the window. That’s why we’ve seen so many flashes-in-the-pan over the years (Kevin Maas comes immediately to mind) and one of the reasons the Yankee middle relief is such a shambles today. So in this context, the Giambi extended rehab project is an especially interesting one for the Yankees to consider.