By Sweeny Murti
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We're almost at the 100-game mark. Here are a few thoughts:
-- Even if A-Rod had not suffered another setback and was returning to the Yankees today, the chances of him leading a second half charge to the playoffs remained slim. As it stands now, it is likely to take at least another two weeks before we see A-Rod, if we even see him then. Insert latest Biogenesis investigation leak here.
There have been three other times in the previous twelve years that, at this point in the season, I believed the Yankees would miss the playoffs — 2005, 2007 and 2008. Ironically enough, A-Rod helped lead them into the playoffs in '05 and '07 with MVP seasons, putting up the type of numbers the team desperately needs right now to keep this from turning into '08, when the Yankees did indeed miss the playoffs.
-- CC Sabathia is heading toward Randy Johnson territory, but I don't think he quite gets there. Johnson pitched to a 5.00 ERA his last season in New York (2006). It seemed apparent that as his strikeout rate shrunk to its lowest ever, he was not able to make the adjustment to pitching with diminished velocity. Sabathia, with a slider and changeup that have long been part of his repertoire, should not have the same issue. He does have to locate better with his diminished velocity, the smaller margin for error being his biggest enemy right now. I really am surprised he's gone this long into the season without figuring it out.
-- The lack of power on this team is staggering. A three-game series at Fenway Park without a single home run?? Hasn't happened to the Yankees since 1995. The Yankees had 30 hits in the series — 23 singles and seven doubles. All 13 hits on Sunday night were singles. It's hard to win in the AL East without the ability to change the game with one swing of the bat. Mike Napoli did that twice Sunday night.
-- With or without A-Rod, it seems this pile of injuries is just too much to overcome. The Yankees are playing fourth, fifth and sixth options at different positions and as admirable a job as they have done, it just doesn't appear to be enough to get the Yankees to the playoffs.
Take Saturday's win for example. The Yankees played a near-perfect game to beat the Red Sox — Hiroki Kuroda went seven innings and gave up only two runs; a lineup with only three players batting over .270 rapped out 12 hits and five runs; three of those runs scoring on two-out hits; the Red Sox ran into three-inning ending outs on the bases; David Ortiz did not come up with a runner in scoring position in any of his four at-bats; and the Yankees used their biggest strength, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, to quietly close out the best offensive team in the league.
The Yankees will not out-slug any teams this year, especially a team like Boston. Can they continue to play games as crisply and cleanly as that? For two more months? Asking a lot, I'd say.
-- And why do some people still think the injuries are just "an excuse"? Can't believe the number of tweets I get about this. Ridiculous that some fans can't recognize that teams aren't designed to replace All-Stars with All-Stars at the drop of a hat.
-- Can the Yankees add key pieces at the trade deadline? Well, they are sure to add a few more players to their growing list (already having used 45 players in 2013, matching their total from last season and just six away from tying the team record of 51 set '05 and '08). But there doesn't appear to be a difference maker out there.
In 2000 when the Yankees needed a bat they flirted with players like Sammy Sosa, Jim Edmonds, and Juan Gonzalez before landing David Justice, who would go on to hit 20 HR in 78 games. He was a big bat to slide into a lineup that plenty of other stars already in it. While Michael Young and Alfonso Soriano could be upgrades, they aren't the difference makers the Yankees need.
You know who would count as the difference makers they need? Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira and Granderson.
-- The "What Would George Do?" or "If George was alive…" arguments are getting old. George Steinbrenner is not coming back, so what he would have done is irrelevant. And don't forget that over the last decade that various changes to the CBA have been put in place specifically to impact competitive balance and erode the financial advantage the Yankees used to out-muscle teams in the past.
George Steinbrenner never had to play by these rules. And the reactionary, impulsive moves weren't always good ones. Bring the arguments and criticism back to reality please.
On to Texas.
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