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Hartnett: Yankees’ Hopes Built Upon Fragile Glass, Cracks Beginning To Show

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Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Yankee fans feared for the worst when Mark Teixeira was drilled by Red Sox ace Jon Lester in the first inning of yesterday’s 6-4 defeat.  Thankfully, the incident looked far worse than the actual day-to-day prognosis later revealed.  Let’s imagine for a moment that Mark Teixeira’s kneecap actually broke and he was shelved for the season… where would this leave the Yankees?

Losing Teixeira, or for that matter any of heart of the order hitters Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson, for the year would put their playoff chances in serious jeopardy.  The Bombers simply do not possess the depth needed to withstand such a blow.  Their roster is overwhelmingly top-heavy and their superstars hide a weak underbelly.

If one of the Yankees’ 2-5 batters goes down, tell me… who would pick up the slack in their lineup?

Nick Swisher appears to be regaining his confidence at the plate, but he’s never produced when it matters in his entire Yankee career.  Russell Martin’s season has gone decidedly south and his early power displays have given way to mediocrity.  Brian Cashman must go out and find someone who can take the load off the middle of the order Yankee hitters.

The Red Sox are a much deeper ballclub from top-to-bottom. They have talented complimentary players to go along with their stars of Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Josh Beckett.  A supporting cast of Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Tim Wakefield is much more encouraging than Swisher, Brett Gardner and Freddy Garcia.  The Red Sox are better equipped if a disastrous injury happens to strike their roster.

Speaking of Garcia, the veteran starter was shelled for four earned runs over 1 ½ innings on Tuesday night.  Garcia is a pitcher who gets by on guile rather than overpowering stuff and wilted when he was tested against the stout Red Sox lineup.  Behind dominant staff ace CC Sabathia and the resurgent A.J. Burnett the Yankees are lacking proven starting pitching.  It’s clear in my mind that Garcia is at best a stopgap solution and Ivan Nova needs minor league development.  Who knows how long Bartolo Colon can hold up and continue pitching like its 2002?

It is uncertain whether Phil Hughes’ health will allow him to be part of the Yankees’ playoff rotation.  Even if he returns, Hughes had a miserable second half a season ago and his playoff statistics lend little comfort.  He imploded the tune of an ERA of 11.42 during the 2010 ALDS against the Rangers.  Cashman needs to acquire two capable starters very soon and not only for the playoffs but to stay in contention for the stretch run.

The Yankees’ general manager has a long shopping list to fulfill as the July 31st trade deadline beckons.  An additional outfield bat is required as Andruw Jones looked overmatched against the Red Sox.  Expected to be a competent OF/DH against left-handed pitching, Jones has only hit .245 against southpaws and is an overall .215 hitter.  Brett Gardner is never going to be an elite batsman and has taken a step back both at the plate and, puzzlingly, on the base paths.

Boone Logan has pitched his way out of being the Yankees’ lefty specialist in tough spots and finding a dependable lefty-handed reliever is difficult task.  The fact that Cashman took a gamble on Pedro Feliciano’s health proves this point.  Cashman will have to find a capable lefty arm to match up against the left-sided batters of divisional rivals like David Ortiz and Carl Crawford of the Red Sox and the Rays’ Johnny Damon.

A lack of bullpen depth has been compounded by the breaking news that Joba Chamberlain is headed to the 15-day DL.  The ineffective Rafael Soriano is out for the long-term, leaving David Robertson as the only reliever Joe Girardi can count on besides Mariano Rivera.

The current Yankee roster needs an infusion of fresh acquisitions.  It’s up to Cashman to play catch-up the Red Sox and mold the Bronx Bombers back into a group worthy of that very name.

Do you agree that the Yankees are in need of a shakeup?  How long can they get by with Garcia and Colon?  Sound off below or send Sean a tweet @HartyLFC.

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