Great stuff on the Yankees today via Bob Klap -
That tense, surreal final out still was vivid in the Yankees’ memory, which went a long way toward explaining the expression on Brian Cashman’s face. It wasn’t a celebratory look as much as relief, or, closer to the truth, pure exhaustion.
The general manager is the first to admit the Bombers aren’t a very good team these days. The Yankees squeaked by the anemic Royals, 3-2, on a night that could’ve dropped them into dead last in the East. Only the Red Sox’ loss to the Orioles spared the Yankees, along with Alex Rodriguez’s ability to quickly negotiate Alcides Escobar’s grounder with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on third base.
Had A-Rod not fired a perfect, across-the-infield missile, and had Mark Teixeira not made the perfect stretch, the Yankees’ slump might’ve mushroomed into a full-blown crisis. The sense of unease about the Bombers’ decline is that great. Even Cashman said, “We’re bad right now.”
The core of the problem is A-Rod, who simply can’t hit home runs any more; he’s gone 52 at-bats without clearing the wall. And without his power threat, the Yankees don’t have the resources to dominate as they once did. Not when their rotation, ranked 11th in the AL, continues its journey toward mediocrity.
Think of it: CC Sabathia no longer is the blow-away ace of his first three years in pinstripes. Hiroki Kuroda may never make a full transition to American League excellence. Ivan Nova’s WHIP has ballooned from 1.33 in 2011 to 1.65 this year; he’s always in trouble. And Phil Hughes, who pitched relatively well over six innings Tuesday, can’t finish off hitters. Of his 104 pitches to the Royals, 26 were fouled off, including 14 with two strikes.
Point is, the Yankees need more runs if their pitching isn’t going to match, say, the Rays or the O’s. But how can any of that happen if A-Rod continues to deteriorate into a $29 million singles hitter? He’s lifting 10 percent fewer fly balls this year than in 2011. His ground-ball ratio is at 51.3 percent, the highest of his career.
Girardi continues to say all the right things about A-Rod, how he believes in the slugger’s track record. “He’s done it before,” is the manager’s favorite line of defense, which technically is true. But Rodriguez never has been an almost 37-year-old, either.
The age issue is a sensitive one for Girardi and Cashman, because they know the Yankees have no other options available.
The GM dismisses the warning signs that others see, saying instead, “I hear the same thing every year. It’s like déjà vu. We’re going to get through this.”
Yet Cashman knows there are no can’t-miss prospects waiting in the farm system.
There are no trades likely to happen, not if it’s going to cost the team younger players and increase payroll.
This is the roster Cashman and his bosses have hand-picked, or as the GM said, “We’re like a ship that’s set sail across the ocean. We’re out to sea.”
O.K., I’ll just hang up now and listen to your reaction…