The Yankees are making it harder and harder for me to be optimistic. Every time you think they are going to turn things around, they go and lose another game. 18-21. That’s nothing short of ridiculous.
The pitching had been terrible, and now the hitting is nowhere to be found outside of Jeter and Posada. Really, their approach at the plate has been pitiful and a lot of guys are having terrible at bats, let alone not getting hits. I know Joe is trying to get the slumping guys going, and trying to not hurt their pride in the process, but he needs to juggle this lineup and bench guys that aren’t getting it done. Abreu? Damon? Giambi? A-Rod? Cano? These guys are doing absolutely nothing. Obviously you can’t bench them all but the lineup needs to feature the guys that are hitting right now at the top of the lineup. Here is what I would do:
1. Damon is not a great lead-off hitter people. I know everybody loves him, but he’s just not. He’s never had an on-base percentage above .380 and only twice has topped .370. That’s not good enough for a lead-off hitter. And with his injuries, he’s not as much of a base-stealing threat. When Abreu gets himself right, he needs to lead-off. Until then, Jeter should lead off. Why not get your best hitter and best on-base guy up as much as possible?
2. When Abreu is right, of course Jeter should be here. He’s perfect for the 2-hole. He hits the ball to the right side, doesn’t strike out, can bunt, hit and run – he can do it all. But right now, I would put Melky here. He’s been having quality at bats lately, and he is very good at making productive outs. He can put a bunt down for you and can pull the ball through the hole on the right side with Jeter on 1st base. Another candidate here would be Cano, but right now he’s just not making enough contact…If Damon is going to play, I would put Mientkiewicz here. He isn’t striking out all that much and is very good at handling the bat. Plus, he’s hot right now.
4. After Jeter and Cano, really no one is doing much. Giambi is still at least worth a walk and can still get on base even if he’s not hitting. Opposing pitchers still seem to fear him for some reason, and so I’d put him in the 4-hole for now.
5. Only at the 5 hole, we’re choosing from a bunch of guys who are doing nothing. A-Rod goes here by default. Also, having him here would allow Giambi to see a few more fastballs, or if teams still are going to put Giambi on, it creates more RBI situations for Alex who, if he can figure out how to hit the ball to right field again, may be able to come through here and there.
6. Matsui showed signs of coming out of his struggles in Chicago. He hit a couple of balls hard, but still grounds into way too many double plays. But he still puts on a good at bat most times up at the plate, so if Giambi and A-Rod can find ways to get on, Matsui can really wear down a pitcher.
7. I know it’s a run of lefties from here on out, but right now Mientiewicz is the hottest of them. If Damon is in the lineup, I would bump Cano up to 7, let Abreu hit 8th, and Damon 9th.
8. Cano has looked down right awful. It’s sad too because the kid has as much potential as anybody. He’s just suffering from A-Rod syndrome right now and is jumping at the ball instead of waiting for it to come to him. It seems he’s trying to pull everything like A-Rod does when he gets in long, pathetic slumps. These guys get so anxious. Hit the ball the other way again Robby!…Abreu’s here with Damon in lineup.
9. Abreu can turn the lineup over nicely and act as a leadoff hitter, making Jeter a 2-hitter again in later innings. His swing is as ugly as they come though. All his weight is headed for the first base dug out, so if he sees anything on the outer half, he’s got no chance. He’s so easy to pitch to right now. Pound him away and he’s not doing anything. He’s another one who needs to dive in a bit and just try to drive every ball the other way. Forget about right field. Hit it to left…Again, Damon here if he’s in the lineup. He’d serve as a 2-hitter, with Abreu acting as a lead-off hitter, and Jeter would follow Damon when the lineup turns over.
This is what I would go with right now. You can’t keep putting Abreu and Damon at the top of the lineup and avoiding putting Posada right in the middle of things. I know Joe has to manage a bunch of egos, but he needs to win some games. And this team isn’t doing that right now. The bullpen has performed well of late, so they need to get a lead early and turn the game over to the pen.
Another solution to the problem, is for these guys to man up and have a sense of urgency. 9 1/2 games boys!! The season is about 1/4 of the way over. And Boston doesn’t look like they’re going to slow down any time soon. The wild card will be no cake walk either. Cleveland, Minnesota and Oakland are not going to be easy to beat out.
The next couple of weeks may be the most important of the season. Here’s a look at the upcoming schedule:
5/18-5/20: @ NY Mets
5/21-5/23: vs. Boston
5/25-5/27: vs. LA Angels
5/28-5/30: @ Toronto
6/1-6/3: @ Boston
6/4-6/7: @ Chi Sox
Ouch. This could be the defining time. If they continue to struggle in the upcoming weeks, it’s going to be a miracle to win the division. However, if they can get hot at the plate and win some games, they could close the gap in a hurry. Right now though, not looks like the long shot.
It starts tonight. Maybe playing their rivals will spark them a bit. Because clearly Torre hasn’t done that. The good news? Andy Pettitte starts tonight. How many times did he bail us out winning Game 2s over the years? There’s no one I’d rather have on the hill tonight.
One more note: Tyler Clippard on Sunday? I know there was a rain out on Tuesday but desperate times call for desperate measures. Wang needs to go on 3 days rest and start Sunday night. That could be the game that decides the series and the Yankees have to, HAVE TO, win 2 out of 3 this weekend.