NEW YORK (WFAN) — In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last six weeks, the Yankees have been nothing short of awful.
The Bombers spent more than $450 million in the offseason in an attempt to bounce back from last season’s third place showing in the AL East. The signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran were supposed to mark the dawning of a new era of Bombers baseball, one that paid final respects to the “Core 4″ and then quickly transitioned to getting back to the business of winning baseball games and challenging for world championships.
It’s not working out too well — and manager Joe Girardi, who was a guest on WFAN with Mike Francesa on Wednesday evening, is having a hard time making sense of it all.
“It’s been frustrating because we’ve been pitching pretty well,” Girardi said.
The Yankees are just a game above .500 and one would think given their history as bashers of the baseball that their mediocrity would be based on the fact that they’ve lost three starting pitchers to injuries.
Alas, that hasn’t been the case. While they likely would be in better shape with Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery), CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (back) making their starts around phenom Masahiro Tanaka every five days, the kids that have been plugged in — David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Chase Whitley — have done an admirable job.
It’s the Yankees’ bats that have gone AWOL. And not just for a few days here and there. The Bombers have been anything but since basically opening day. Their latest swoon speaks volumes about the current state of things as they’ve scored a total of 10 runs over their last five games, losing four.
“We missed (Mark Teixeira) for three weeks and that really hurt us and we’ve missed Beltran for three weeks and that’s really hurt us. I still think we’re capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark, but we’re not necessarily going to lead the league,” Girardi said.
The Yankees are currently 12th in the American League in runs scored with 234, are hitting just .255 as a team and have an on-base percentage of just .317. And while it seems like pitching has made a comeback league wide, the Yankees still have some impressive individuals with impressive resumes on their roster that should be doing a lot better than they are.
Career minor league Yangervis Solarte leads the Yankees in hitting at .299, but after him the drop-off is significant. Brett Gardner is hitting a respectable .277 and Ellsbury, after enduring a brutal slump, is back up to .273, but considering the contracts they signed in the offseason it’s hard to defend a combined 5 homers and 44 RBI.
As for the supposed power hitters in this lineup, Beltran, who inked a three-year, $45 million deal, has been out three weeks with a bone spur on his elbow, but before getting injured was hitting just .234 with 5 homers and 15 RBI. McCann, signed for five years and $80 million, is hitting just .234 with 7 homers and 24 RBI. Alfonso Soriano, who tore up the AL last season after coming over in a trade from the Chicago Cubs, is batting just .226 with 58 strikeouts in 186 at-bats.
“(McCann) has hit the ball pretty hard; he’s just not had a lot of luck and that becomes extremely frustrating for a hitter. You have to get past that,” Girardi said. “(Soriano) been pretty good against lefties. The righties have really given him a lot of trouble before. He’s just in a rut and he has to find his way out of it.”
Only Teixeira (.248, 10 homers, 27 RBI) has produced somewhat consistently, but he has had his own issues due to his surgically repaired wrist and balky legs.
When asked for his general feelings on his first baseman, Girardi said, “I think we have to get through today and see how he does today.”
As for Derek Jeter, his final season is going by quietly. He looks nothing like the Hall of Fame player he once was, batting just .260 with a homer, 11 RBI. If not for his farewell tour, he’d hardly be noticeable.
So how do they fix this mess? Considering how much money they invested during the offseason, the Yankees will probably go all in to come up with solutions. They are expected to get Beltran back on Thursday, though his injury situation remains precarious. If the pain returns he could have surgery and be lost for three months.
As a precaution, the Yankees are reportedly interested in free agent first baseman Kendrys Morales, but may be waiting to make their move until after the first day of the amateur draft, when signing him won’t come with the cost of a draft pick.
But other than that the Yankees simply need their stars to start producing.
The Bombers also figure to be in the market for a starting pitcher or two, though whomever they target will likely need to be an innings eater as well as a legitimate horse given how much the bullpen is being taxed and the little margin of error due to the offense’s ineptitude.
The only saving grace for the Yankees right now is the fact that their 29-28 record leaves them just five games back of first-place Toronto in the division. Girardi said it’s way too early to panic.
“We have over 100 games to go, we have a long way to go. A lot of times when you are struggling it gets magnified. We just came off a 5-4 road trip. You go out and win today and go out and win tomorrow and then your homestand is not terrible,” Girardi said.
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