Just some random thoughts…O.K., yeah, it’s more of a rant…about the upcoming Subway Series with the Mets…and what’s ahead for the Yankees this season.
Raise your hand if you’re thrilled about the notion of Squire Dan Giese and Sir Sidney Ponson starting for the Yankees in the double-header scheduled against the Mets on Friday.
I’m not seeing many hands.
Oh, well, I guess it could be worse. If Andy Hawkins and Hideki Irabu were not officially retired, maybe the Yankees would have reached out to them to start these games?
Yes, I know, as Yankees fans, outwardly, we’re supposed to look at these games against the Mets and say “Inter-league? Big deal. It’s played. Means nothing. These games are no more important than any other game, etc.” However, on the inside, as a Yankees fan, many of us do have some “Big Stein” in us that says “Don’t lose to the Mets!”
I mean, really, what Yankees fan wants to watch the Mets Jose Reyes do his little happy dance over the next three days at the expense of the Girardi Boys?
Oh, there’s plenty of potential for ugly, in Yankeeland, on Friday with Ponson and Giese on the mound. At least Saturday’s game should be good – Pettitte versus Santana. Sunday? Rasner and Perez? That’s anyone’s guess. Both of these pitchers are capable of having a shut-down type effort or imploding, big-time.
Part of me says “Be happy with a split against the Mets.” But, then again, the Mets are still somewhat licking their own wounds. So, should the Yankees feel good about allowing them to take two of these games?
Anyway, let’s look at the bigger picture. Since May 20th, the Yankees are 22-12…a nice solid ten games over .500. However – and, yes, you knew there was going to be a however – the Yankees have also gone 9-0 against the Mariners, Astros, and Padres since May 20th. So, basically, outside of playing some really bad teams, the Yankees have been playing about .500 ball since May 20th.
What about before May 20th? Well, in their first 27 games of this season, the Yankees went 14-13. And, in their next 17 games, they went 6-11. That’s not impressive. Need I go on?
Here’s the deal: Offensively and defensively (meaning pitching) the Yankees have been around the middle of the pack, to date, in the American League. They’ve scored 366 runs and they’ve allowed 344 runs. And, this why they’re a near-.500 ballclub.
It’s all about run differential. If you’re a hitting team, you need to score more than you allow to win games. If you’re a pitching team, you need to allow less runs than you score to win. Right now, the Yankees are not a hitting or a pitching team. They’re a hit as well as you pitch team – scoring about as much as they allow. Hence, the near-.500 record.
In the second half of this season, the Yankees need to pick a plan of attack and improve the team so that they can follow the plan.
This means they need to improve the last two slots of their starting rotation – and become a pitching team. Or, they need to start getting some offense from Jeter, Cano, Cabrera and Abreu and become a monster hitting team.
Now, it seems, lately, like Jeter, Cano and Abreu are starting to hit. So, do the Yankees sit tight, keep serving the Cashman Kool-Aid, and wait for their team hitting to arrive and make up for the shortages in their starting rotation? That could work – but, what if Cano and Abreu are not truly coming around? And, what if Damon and Matsui’s injuries become serious? And, what if Giambi breaks down? Then, all of a sudden, it’s Posada, A-Rod, and Jeter being asked to carry the load. Is that enough?
The safer bet would be to add least one solid starting pitcher to follow Pettitte, Chamberlain and Mussina – and fill in the fifth slot with guys like Rasner, Kennedy, Hughes…and…even…gulp…Pavano…nah, not Pavano…let’s say Karstens…and hope that you get Wang back in September.
If you’re able to throw Pettitte, Chamberlain, Mussina and “Joe Solid Starter” in a row, you’re likely to start winning some series…and putting together some four and five game winning streaks. And, if that happens, then the Yankees can have a nice second half of 2008.
O.K., there. I’ve gotten all that off my chest. Whew. That feels better.