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Nearing the Light at the End of the Tunnel

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?

60 replies on “Nearing the Light at the End of the Tunnel”

For me nothing has changed, but I wanted to just admit I was wrong re: the Yankees. I didn’t think this team would be good enough to contend for an AL East title. I thought Cashman was crazy for believing that the team that broke camp was a title winning team. Whether it has been luck or good fortune this team is in a position to win the AL East and Cashman and Girardi deserve credit for that. With that said, I still believe it will have to be an offensive attack that wins games for us in October if we are fortunate enough to get there. It’s been an enjoyable season, being frustrated with Cashman aside. I am not afraid to admit I was wrong!
As for A-Rod, what can you do. He’s locked up for quite a bit longer so I guess you have to take the good and bad. The fortunate part about it is that it’s really just health at this point and the player that he was (maybe not 100% of it) is still in there. He won’t ever hit 40 HR’s again, but I still think he can be a presence in the lineup in the post-season and going forward. Agree with you IH, no more 4!

You’ve got to be in pretty good (and crowded) company for being wrong about the 2011 Yanks John. I doubt anyone would have projected things looking like they do right now – everyone expected Boston to play better than they have and most expected the Yankees to play worse than they have. I know there is real reluctance around here to credit managers with much of anything having to do with the standings, but I think Girardi has done an exceptional job this year. Both his in-game management and his mangement of the ups and downs of the season have seemed pretty spot-on. With this brutal September schedule I think it is a major challenge for him to get them to October and to do so with these guys being at all healthy and/or fresh, and I have questioned what he has done with the line-up since Granderson and Cano have so clearly established themselves as the most feared hitters they’ve got, but I think the Yankees have themselves a very good manager who I believe deserves real credit for how well the team has performed to-date.
Part of the real oddity of this season is the combination of the Yankees’ abysmal head-to-head record vs. Boston and yet their non-insubstantial lead over them in the standings right now. One reflects what I think many expected to play out. The other, not at all.

As for the playoffs, if they get there I believe the formula is: 1. 6 innings out of the starter; 2. Soriano, Robertson, and Mo; 3. Bash the ball. I think with CC, Nova, and Freddy and/or Bartolo, they actually have a pretty good shot at # 1; I think # 2 is probably their greatest strength upon which they can rely; and I think # 3, as you point out, is the key. Great offenses get shut down all the time in October. But it’s partially because of this that I don’t want any relative weak spots in the line-up to give opposing pitchers a break or to consistently kill rallies. 2011 A-Rod compounded by a bad thumb feels very much like exactly that to me.

Before we diss on A-Rod, let’s remember that we thought Jeter was toast, including most certainly moi, has roared back with a fine second half.
The thumb is tricky though. For those of us that have had thumb injuries while competing, you can’t grip any thing well and every bit of tension hurt like a mofo on the grip. That itty bitty piggy is important.
I’m glad we were wrong about the Yankees but let’s be clear that their nearest competition completely fell apart. We can credit the Yankees scouting and development staff for that. They finally have youngster that can step into clear roles. Where would this team be without Nova and Robertson? Now to have Montero? That is not the team we started the year with. It’s hard to give credit though for Colon and Garcia. They just got very lucky there!

Girardi doesn’t make many mistakes. That’s important. But he’s not exactly as inspired as he was touted to be. They still bunt far too much and steal far too infrequently. The unwillingness to use Mo on the road in a tie game is not new, but he was supposed to be smarter than that. If it happens in the playoffs, there’s nothing exceptional about it.

Agree with you James on the bunting too much and stealing too seldom. Don’t agree re: A-Rod. Yes lots of people bailed on Jeter but I see he and A-Rod as very different. Jeter’s body is not falling apart like….well…..like a guy who did PEDs and then had to come off them and is now rapidly aging as a result. A-Rod’s issues seem to me on a different plane form Jeter’s. But even having said that, don’t read too much doom and gloom into my A-Rod assessment. I am not bailing on him for next year (when he’ll be even older). I still hold out hope for a rebound year with impressive numbers.
I am only saying that for the next 6 weeks that I hope the Yankees will be playing baseball, I don’t think it is time to try to get A-Rod to slide seemlessly back into the 4-hole, that’s all. I would be absolutely fine with him batting 6th, which is in fact the highest I think he should be hitting right now given the switch-hitting duo of Teix/Swish, which is at least as potent as current A-Rod is.

On A-Rod, I agree to an extent on the injuries. But this one was flukey and it’s tough to do anything with a badly sprained thumb. I’d have no problem with him hitting 6 or 7th. Just don’t bat him 8th!

I just lose interest by the end of the season IBM…especially once football and hockey start.
The season is too long.
Start the playoffs so we can lose in the first round and get it over with already.
This season has been unwatchable.

Posada.
Why?
I don’t understand why everyone loves him. He sucks. Always has. I can’t remember anything the guy ever did in a big spot in the playoffs or WS. Ever.
GO AWAY YOU OLD PIECE OF SHIT!

Yankee batters flailing away…at the mighty Jays emergency starter.
Man, look out AL in the playoffs. This lineup is powerful. Not.
Too bad we can’t play the White Sox or Royals in the playoffs.

Tex with another awesome grounder that would have been an out…but since Curtis was on first he just got Curtis out.
It is amazing that neither of these two assholes can hit the ball anymore. I mean, is it really still a slump after about a month of pure sucking??? MVP??? Laughable.

“Tim Thomas will win another Vezina.”
I think you have him confused with the best American goalie…Ryan Miller.
See, Miller actually has a defense in front of him this year.

Bases clearing double.
Fuck this bullshit.
CC sucks.
Tex sucks.
Curtis sucks.
They all fucking suck.
I don’t care anymore.
We have no chance of winning the WS. And I really don’t care unless we win the WS. $200 million fucking failure.

The umps really seem to want to hand ddeliver this one to the Sox. Ridiculous strike calls, calling Damon out on the HBP. Whatever. As for the Yanks, they appear headed to yet another late/extra-inning nail-bier. They sure could use a win in one of these.

Logan about to give it up in the bottom of the 9th with 2 on and no out. How brutal have the last 9 games been dating back to the 2am extra inning gut-puncher vs. Baltimore. And then the Jays sac bunt poorly enough to get the lead runner out at 3rd. Great play by Chavez. Horrible execution by Toronto. But all they need is a single…

Beckett and Bard being good was reassuring (though they’re lucky the 3rd base ump called Damon out on the swinging HBP for Bard’s first out); it was a very close game, in question until the final strike. They need to win tomorrow when it’s Niemann v. Lester…’cause Price v. Wakefield…hoo boy.

Papelbon looked absurdly untouchable by the way. He was already having a solid year and now not having a save opportunity since August 18 (unbelievable) has him coming in more than a little rested.

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