Via Jon Heyman -
Yankees people believe their oddly mediocre offense is what’s killing them, even moreso than the injuries to Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain, the disappointing seasons and subsequent injuries of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and seeming lack of bullpen depth. Yankees higherups point to offensive underperformance from just about everyone, the notable exceptions all being outfielders: Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon and perhaps Bobby Abreu.
The Yankees are going to come up many, many runs short of the baseball-best 968 they posted in 2007, and it’s not all due to the long absences of Jorge Posada and the just-returned Hideki Matsui. The individual disappointments from the perspective of club decision makers include Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano (“terrible on offense and defense” this year, according to one AL executive), and doesn’t nearly stop there. It even extends to Alex Rodriguez, whose numbers don’t look all that disappointing. A-Rod actually possesses the AL’s second best OPS at .992 (to Milton Bradley’s 1.029) but has come up limp in the clutch.
He may be partially a victim of high standards, his otherworldy 2007 season and his second gargantuan contract, this one for $275 guaranteed plus $30 million in makeable incentives. But A-Rod is batting only .244 with runners in scoring position, so that stat line of .309, 28 homers and 78 RBIs isn’t quite what it seems.
Club higherups are concerned enough about A-Rod that they are even wondering aloud whether his off-field distractions are affecting his play. But while he hasn’t been his best, to be sure, this team has far bigger worries than A-Rod, like missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
No one had more off-field distractions than Babe Ruth. But, then again, I doubt that Ruth ever hit .244 with runners in scoring position. Ditto, across the board, for Mickey Mantle.