Keidel: Don’t Be Fooled — The Yankees’ Season Is Over
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By Jason Keidel
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I was recently branded all manner of moron — and, worse, a Mets fan – for putting postmortems on the pinstripes.
We New Yorkers fancy ourselves as the most educated and sophisticated sports devotees in the union. But in truth we’re just as provincial and petty as any other faction of flyover country.
WFAN host Mike Francesa dissected his beloved Bombers on Monday. And he made the reasonable assertion that the Yankees, at 63-59, need to go 25-15 in their final 40 games in order to make a hearty march toward the playoffs.
Which is why the season is over.
Let’s understand this. The Yankees are a .516 team after 120 games, yet we’re supposed to believe they will miraculously morph into a .600 club over the final six weeks? And they’re supposed to do it with an amalgam of castaways, castoffs and recycled parts?
Chris Capuano, Esmil Rogers, Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene are hardly a roll call for Cooperstown. They look like the redshirts at the beginning of an old “Star Trek” episode, the sad souls whom you know will be zapped into salt cubes before the first commercial.
And, oddly enough, the pitching isn’t the core issue. It’s been the Bronx Bombers who have bombed in 2014, with a high-end grocery list of big boppers who haven’t lived up to the back of their baseball cards or their nine-figure price tags.
To give you an idea of their summer of sans, the Yankees are 22nd in MLB in runs scored. The Yankees have scored fewer runs than the Miami Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks and … the Houston Astros. They have an appalling .249 team batting average.
And perhaps the most glaring drop in production of all is their profound power outage. Especially with that comfy porch in right field, their home-run nook for the last century. The have a paltry 110 home runs on August 19, which is what they used to have by June 30.
The heralded men in pinstripes have been a heralded failure in all sides of the diamond, except for the bullpen, which has managed to remain robust despite the loss of the immortal Mariano Rivera.
You know you’ve dropped a few rungs down the aristocracy when you now look for moral, marginal themes to the season.
“Well, considering their starting staff was a walking triage…” or “They compete despite disappointing seasons from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran and their overall anorexia at the plate…”
The truth is that the Yankees spend over $200 million annually on their roster, and that colossal investment has resulted in colossal failure. The Yankees always speak and think in epic terms. The goal every year is to at least contend for a World Series title. You can point to the injuries in the rotation, but the Yankees picked that rotation, which included an ancient Hiroki Kuroda, a spent CC Sabathia, an injury-ravaged Michael Pineda and a pitching schizophrenic in Ivan Nova.
And the blinding ruby of the rotation — Masahiro Tanaka — might need Tommy John surgery, although he’s progressing. He hasn’t had it because the Yankees are clinging to the whisker-thin notion that he can rehab his mangled elbow into pristine health. It almost never happens, but the Yankees think they are the exception –which is the kind of jaded, corporate coda that has gotten them into this mess. Tanaka is a clear microcosm of their organizational hubris.
And all we had to do is peer across the Harlem River and see the Mets and Matt Harvey. The fledgling phenom had a similar injury and swore he would PT his way to pitching again this year. Then the Mets stepped in and shut him down. And if the Mets can strong-arm the best arm east of Chavez Ravine, then the Yanks need to rip the ball from Tanaka’s talons and get him under the knife.
Call it melodrama, hyperbole or paranoia, but there’s a dour feeling about the Yankees. They will most likely miss the playoffs, which will mean the first consecutive, hollow autumns in two decades.
And it doesn’t look like they are getting better. They just dropped nine figures on hitters who can’t hit this year. Their rotation has been duct-taped.
Where are the Yankees headed? Not that he has anything left in his brittle bat and creaky limbs, but Derek Jeter is taking the last link to the dynasty, to the time when we thought the good times were eternal. Who will replace No. 2?
His backup, Brendan Ryan, is batting .222 with 0 homers and 6 RBIs. Second base? Stephen Drew isn’t exactly Robinson Cano. Right field? Martin Prado is nothing more than a nice player, and Ichiro — who is a first-ballot baseball God — is 40 and is batting .277 with 14 RBIs. Their savior behind the plate, McCann (you know him as McCan’t), is mashing — .235 BA with 13 homers, 49 RBIs and a .291 OBP. For that they forked over nearly $100 million.
Well, at least we know the answer at third, The hybrid hitter/fielder and legend, the panacea for the plagued roster is…
More like Pay-Rod. His guaranteed contract, still intact despite all his efforts to void his bedrock deal, is the sole reason that Hal Steinbrenner is welcoming him back. So we hang our tattered hopes on lucky No. 13 and hit our knees for Pray-Rod to play again, even at half-mast.
Considering their biblical fall from grace, it will take prayer, a religion or a religious experience to believe in the Bronx Bombers again.
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