This was a great game to win because it would have been a painful game to lose. What I hope does not get lost this evening in the win are three items of note (that need to be addressed):
1. While Bernie Williams was the hitting star in this contest, his lack of arm in RF nearly cost the Yankees this game. Nick Johnson, not a speedster of any quality, twice (running the bases) made the point of how Williams throws weakly. Now, in Yankee Stadium, with the very short RF, having Bernie play RF is not that big of an issue. (And, it makes sense to play Melky Cabrera in LF in the Bronx – since it’s such a big field and he has the legs and arm to cover it.)
Back in the day, when Babe Ruth played for the Yankees, for most of his time with the team, the Yankees would play Ruth in RF in the Bronx and then play him in LF on the road. Basically, this was done to keep him in the easier field to play. Why can’t the Yankees do this now with Bernie Williams? Having Cabrera play RF on the road, where he can prevent runners from going first-to-third and second-to-home, makes more sense (than having Bernie out there).
2. As much as Jaret Wright does his best and guts it out each turn, he’s hurting the team by not being able to get through the 6th inning every time. Being a 5-inning pitcher, in the 5th slot of the rotation, is fine if you have four horses in front of you. But, just about everyone on the Yankees staff is a 100-pitch pitcher these days. The Yankees need to get someone in the rotation, to replace Wright, who can give them some innings each time out. He doesn’t need to be a star. Even if his ERA is 4.80, he would be worth it – if he can average 6.3 IP per start. At this point, even someone like Doug Davis would be an upgrade on Wright – and welcome.
3. A-Rod. I mean, really, if you saw this in a movie it would be unbelievable. There’s no way that someone that good could be this bad. It’s the 7th inning, Yanks down by two, with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd – and he gets caught looking. Then, in the next inning (the 8th) it happens again – game tied, bases loaded, two out and he whiffs.
For the month of June, he’s now batting .156 in 45 ABs – with 18 Ks in those 45 ABs. That’s 4 Ks for every 10 ABs.
Remember Phil Niekro? Remember his brother, Joe Niekro (also a pitcher)? They both pitched for the Yankees at one point. In his career, Joe Niekro (as a batter) had a lifetime average of .156 and he whiffed 2.5 times for every 10 ABs.
This is how bad A-Rod has been so far this month – he’s hitting like Joe Niekro. Over their Yankees career, Enrique Wilson, Omar Moreno, and Alvaro Espinoza hit better (in terms of a success rate) than Alex Rodriguez has batted so far this June.
Yes, it’s only been a half-month. But, what if this is still going on (at this terrible rate) when the calendar hits July 1st? If things seem bad now, it’s going to be a hundred times worse then. It will be a circus. This is why this situation needs to turnaround – and very soon. But, will it?