Although I have yet to see a game in person this season, I can’t imagine your Jeter effect has as much of an impact as you are indicating. I realize he will get many standing oh’s, even on the road. But he isn’t a great player anymore. Sure the noise and excitement for every Jeter at-bat is worth something I suppose. You know what’s worth more though? Batting someone second who has a higher slugging percentage than most backup catchers.
I also agree that the DL stints may be worthwhile, in that Sabathia will come back better and Pineda will hopefully come back pitching just as well. The problem is all the injuries are mounting at the same time and the bullpen is falling apart as we speak. With Shawn Kelley now injured as well, Alfredo Aceves becoming a key cog and he lacking the physical ability to retire opposing batters, and the subsequent losses of Phelps and Nuno to the rotation, the bullpen is now a point of weakness. Rumors say the Yanks might need to remove Adam Warren as well, to stretch him out to start a few games.
Right now, Masahiro Tanaka is the only starter worth a hill of beans. He is otherworldly, which certainly helps. He is amazing. But he’s not pitching more often because of the lack of depth here. That’s still only one win every five games, which is literally the schedule we’ve been on this last time through the rotation.
I feel even more negative about this team as the weeks progress. Of course, I still have the division to fall back on. Much like the NFL’s NFC East, the AL East in baseball used to be the division of death. As recently as last season, it was a place no one else wanted to play. Now, just a third of a season later? As of May 14, only one team in the AL East has a positive run differential and that’s the Toronto Bluejays, with a current record of 20-21.
I’m not going to debate Jeter’s spot in the order, or the significance of his at-bats. I get where you’re coming from, wanting to see him farther down in the order based upon productivity, but the Yankees have a lot bigger issues to deal with right now. Their hitting numbers are quite good. Pitching is another story entirely.
Its amazing, but A LOT has changed for me since Monday when part one of our Yankees Checkpoint Debate hit the internet. The team was on a downswing, but the two losses in a row to the New York Mets, coupled with further injuries, leave me grasping for straws when it comes to near term optimism. Tanaka won, but he’s definitely the lone bright spot on an otherwise putrid pitching staff. He is now the team’s number one starter, after beginning the season as their number three. Granted, he has definitely performed at the highest of levels, but the men now sitting below him in the rotation don’t inspire much confidence. Kuroda appears a shell of himself. Phelps and Nuno are too inconsistent and Aceves must prove his value quickly.
I believe the current starting rotation can hold on for dear life while the team and the city of New York wait for the Disabled List to grow smaller. But I’m now with you; I fear the bullpen won’t be able to handle the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. You mentioned that the Yankees’ saving grace might be the overall weakness of the AL East. Well how about this for numbers? The Yankees don’t play an AL East opponent for a full month, not until June 17th against the Blue Jays. They’ll be lucky to escape with a .500 record. The only two teams that pass as easy opponents are the Cubs and Twins, but I would have included the Mets in that list and look how that series turned out.
Its very early in the season, too early to outright panic. If injuries are to befall a team, its best to have them hit in late April and May. That’s a win for New York. If your pitching staff is going to struggle, again that’s best in early May. But who are the real 2014 New York Yankees? Its not the team currently treading water. The real Yankees will appear a bit later in the season, much like their captain who often takes his time to emerge at the plate.
We’ve seen this before. A Yankees team led by Jeter who could barely pass as competitive in May. I wish I recalled the specific year, but I know that team made the playoffs. I know it’s painful to watch right now when anyone but Tanaka is on the hill, but hold on brother. Hold on until June 17th. This season is far from over.