In every season in recent history, the Yankees have seemed to climb into a hole that they were unlikely to climb out of. They've had tough seasons in the last few years, and this one is no different. Where we're out Matsui, Damon, and Wang, I have to say that this has been a good season for injuries. Remember 2005 when we had Chacon, Small and Leiter replacing our injured pitchers? Or in 2006 when we lost Matsui and Sheffield, our two corner outfielders, and the majority of our offense? Or last season when we had so many rookies pitching for us, you had to do a double take to make sure you weren't watching the Staten Island Yankees by accident. Despite this, the Yankees are taking to this seasons slew of injuries like they've never dealt with the DL before. Our rotation is much better than it has been in other years. Even with Wang out, Mussina has been more than stellar, Pettitte, despite his recent start, has been good, and Chamberlain's been pitching like he's always been in the rotation. Throw in the unlikely contributions of Sir Sydney Ponson, and you see a pretty good group of pitchers. Unlike recent seasons however, the trouble does not lie with the pitching, but with the offense. How a lineup with a resurgent Giambi, and a good as ever A-Rod is under performing is beyond me. This team losses a lot of close games, and gets shut out by both great pitchers and crappy fill-ins alike. Peter Abraham mentioned on his blog that the Yankees are on pace to score 742 runs, the fewest since 1992. And we sucked in 1992. So is there any hope?
I for one am a strong believer in the baseball card rule. This rule states that barring injury, any veteran player, no matter how bad they may have started a season, will end up with numbers similar to what they've put up on their baseball card. Remember A-Rod in 2006 when he had that "awful" season? He ended with a .290 average, 35 homeruns, and 121 RBI's. Compare this to his first season with the Yankees where he batted .286 with 36 homeruns and 106 RBI's. Following this rule, you'd believe that the under performing Yankees should return to their norm by the season's end. However, A-Rod, Giambi, and Abreu aren't under performing. They're actually hitting exactly what you could expect them too. Cabrera is under his norm, but he's still too young a player for the rule to apply. Cano and Jeter should be batting better, but is that enough to save this team? Will Matsui and Damon's return save the Yankees? Matsui was the best hitter we had before his injury. Can Posada make up for lost time? I just don't know. What I do know is that Brett Gardner isn't the answer though he could serve as part of the equation. We're not getting career years out of players like we did last year from Posada and A-Rod, or the year before from Jeter and Cano. Something major needs to turn around in order for this team to make a playoff run. I thought they had hit rock bottom when they got killed by Baltimore last month after getting swept by the Mets. It appears I was wrong. We're not that far behind, but losing series to the Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates isn't going to help us get anywhere. Neither is squandering quality starts from our pitchers.
Is it time to turn things around? I would have said that was the case months ago, but now, after getting shut down over 8+ innings by 2 Toronto pitchers, I think its time to step it up a little. We're entering the All-Star break now. The Yankees need to rest, regroup, and get themselves mentally ready for the second half of the season. They need to hit the ground running on July 18th. If not, its time to start looking toward 2009, and you better believe this offense will get a face lift this off season.