The State of the Yankees

May 17, 2011

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Ahhh it is that time of year again when there is drama in the Bronx Zoo. The Evil Empire also known as the New York Yankees seem to hum along magically when all is going well. They are winning games, they are enjoying the YES network, they are getting up the ire of Baaaahston fans….but this year has been different. The Pinstripers are struggling, They have not enjoyed their normal success of recent years early on in the 2011 season. Now this past week they have one of the biggest on the field and off the field distractions in the Majors involving their long time catcher Jorge Posada.

Now on any other team this may not be a big deal. But we are talking about the New York Yankees here folks. The geographic center of the Universe. Remember the Sun itself orbits around New York City.

This past week Jorge bailed out of the lineup on his own accord. He is only hitting .165 this year and has yet to get a hit all year off of a left handed pitcher. Manager Joe Girardi had dropped him to dead last in the batting order. Jorge was so angry at being demoted to ninth in the order Saturday that he not only said he wanted out of the lineup, also indicated he might want off of the team. Allegedly a heated discussion took place before the game between manage Joe Girardi, a former catcher himself, and Posada. These two have had some issues over the years that seem to stem back to their playing days when Girardi was still in the league as an active player.

Yesterday Derek Jeter the modern day version of Joe DiMaggio in the eyes of Yanks fans stepped to the defense of his comrade in arms, essentially condoning Posada’s behavior indicating he had nothing to apologize for, he obviously was struggling and he was caught off guard with this and had a bad day.

The New York front office brass did not seem too impressed with their team captain taking this stance and called for an internal meeting to discuss the entire situation.

It appears all is well on the Eastern Front now and the over-reacting drama surrounding this incident is over. But it does bring up a valid question. When a great player become average, or gets to the point when their skills have deteriorated significantly, whose responsibility is it to call it a day, sit down for the betterment of the team, or even hang up the cleats for good?

Too many players have held on way past the point of no return. Some retirements seem to come suddenly such as Barry Sanders or Ken Griffey Jr. Others seems to go on like the end of a bad movie (Brett Favre)

By their nature professional athletes are confident, bordering on cocky, and have achieved the successes they have endured in their sport because they are better than most, even at the heightened level of competition. It must be very difficult to make that decision on your own as an athlete.

Here is hoping that Posada won’t have to stare his .165 batting average in the face to accept that maybe the end is near, and can make a decision on his own before the team is forced to make it for him.

Baseball Playoff Preview (American League)

October 5, 2010

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This is a preview of the American League teams.  You can also see my thoughts on the National League Playoff teams.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays – AL East Champions (96-66)

How they got here:
The young Devil Rays team battled the veteran Yankees for the division title and emerged victorious. They were 42-32 in the second half, but just 15-15 in the last thirty games.


  • Rising superstar David Price went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA
  • Three starters topped 200 innings pitched
  • Closer Rafael Soriano notched 45 saves and posted a 1.73 ERA


  • Aside from 3B Evan Longoria and OF Carl Crawford, nobody in the lineup really scares you. 1B Carlos Pena had 28 homers, but posted just a .196 batting average. Longoria and Crawford were the only regulars with a batting average higher than .263.
  • The back end of the rotation has some holes.  Actually, once you get beyond Price, there’s a decent drop-off.

Player to watch:
Evan Longoria hit fewer home runs this year, but don’t be fooled – he’s one of the best young players in the game.

New York Yankees – AL Wild Card (95-67)

How they got here:
After a long duel with the upstart Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Yankees lost the division race by a single game and ended up as the wild card. The Yankees were just 39-35 after the All-Star break, including 13-17 in September and October.


  • Five players with 24 or more homers, led by 1B Mark Teixeira
  • 21 game winner CC Sabathia and resurgent veteran Andy Pettitte both posted ERA below 3.50
  • Closer Mariano Rivera remains one of the best in the game


  • Only one regular with a batting average higher than .288
  • Get deeper into the rotation, and there is a significant drop-off in talent level
  • Derek Jeter is winding up the worst season of his career – and might be in significant decline

Player to watch:
2B Robinson Cano has always hit for good average (.309 career average is 12th highest among active MLB players), but has added a power stroke in the last few years, with 25 homer last year and 29 this year. That’s great production from a middle infield position – watch for the Yankees to become Cano’s team in the next few years.

Minnesota Twins – AL Central Champions (94-68)

How they got there: After a lackluster 46-42 record in the first half of the season, the Twins posted a 48-26 record in the second half to pull away in the division.


  • Catcher Joe Mauer had his power numbers fall back to their normal levels, but continued to be the heart and soul of the team. He posted a .327 batting average and has the 3rd highest career batting average of any active player (also .327)
  • DH Jim Thome popped 25 homers in just 340 at bats as he looks toward the end of a Hall of Fame career.

Nobody in the rotation is really a bona fide ace.  Journeyman Carl Pavano led the team with 17 wins – nobody else won more than 14.  Brian Duensing has looked promising (10-3, 2.62), but he has just 22 career starts under his belt.

Player to watch:
It’s seems like OF Delmon Young has been in the league forever, and many fans have already written him off as a bust. However, Young just turned 25 in September and took a significant step forward this year, hitting 21 homers to go along with a .298 batting average. There’s plenty of upside potential for Young, especially if he can take a few more walks.

Texas Rangers – AL West Champions (90-72)

How they got here: A 21-6 record in the month of June pushed them to a big lead, and they were never seriously challenged in the division race. They had the luxury of resting some players down the stretch to get them healthy for the playoffs (notably Josh Hamilton).


  • Middle of the order hitters: OF Josh Hamilton led the league with a .359 batting average and hit 32 homers, DH Vlad Guerrerro resurrected his career with 29 homers, and OF Nelson Cruz contributed 22 homers in just 399 at bats.
  • Rotation: C.J. Wilson finally got an opportunity to start and responded with 15 wins and a 3.35 ERA, while 24 year old Tommy Hunter went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA. Veteran Colby Lewis overachieved to post a 3.72 ERA. Although mid-season acquisition Cliff Lee didn’t pitch as well as the Rangers hoped down the stretch, he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs and is the ace of the staff.

There are holes in the lineup. SS Elvis Andrus provided zero homers, and the Rangers also struggled to get offensive production out of the 1B and Catcher spots.

Players to watch:
I can’t settle on just one. OF Josh Hamilton is a great story – a former number one overall pick finally getting past his demons to break out as a superstar. 22 year old closer Neftali Feliz is one of the best young pitchers in the game. Elvis Andrus has struggled offensively, but he’s just barely 22 years old.