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By Sweeny Murti
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“There is no contingency plan for your best players.” — Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers GM
Daniels was referring to his own team, a question posed to him about the Biogenesis scandal and possible suspension hanging over right fielder Nelson Cruz.
But those words could very easily be applied to the 2013 New York Yankees.
So far this season Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have played a combined 23 games. The starting infield of Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have not played a single inning together, not even in spring training — and now, because of Teixeira’s season-ending wrist injury they might never play together ever again depending on recovery, free agency, etc.
This is not how the Yankees were supposed to go to battle, using 41 players in the first 77 games (none of them named Jeter or Rodriguez, yet), only 10 away from the team record and the trade deadline and September call-ups still miles away. Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis done for the year. Granderson and his back-to-back 40-HR seasons appearing in just eight games (with one home run). With utililty man Jayson Nix (who came to camp on a minor league contract to try and win a backup infield job) having started the most games for this team at both shortstop and third base nearly halfway through the season.
Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, Chris Stewart. These are the guys who were supposed to be backups or platoon guys or stopgaps. Where are the guys that the Yankees usually go out and get? Remember—there are no contingency plans for your best players. The guys that are on the bench or in the minors are there for a reason. If they were supposed to step in and make you forget that Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira or Granderson were out… well, they wouldn’t be on the bench or in the minors.
The trading deadline could solve some problems, but to expect a complete overhaul that puts three or four All-Stars back into the everyday lineup is probably asking for too much. And it’s not about a financial commitment to winning. It’s just that that many difference-making players do not become available.
Remember in “Hoosiers” when the Hickory Huskers are introduced to the students before their first game and the kids start chanting “We want Jimmy!” Coach Norman Dale has to scold the students and say “this is your team” and the players’ dedication “demands and deserves your respect.”
Well right now the Yankees are running their Hickory Huskers out there. They just happen to be waiting for about three or four Jimmy Chitwoods to come back.
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