June 24, 2012

Mixed reports on state of the Yankees [Poll]

I woke up this morning and saw a positive article about the Yankees from Red Sox world, here in Boston, and a negative Yankees article from Yankeeland. Huh.

The Boston Globe published an article titled "Yankees in a position to build healthy lead," while the New Jersey Star-Ledger published an article saying the Yankees aren't equipped to win it without Brett Gardner.

So, which is it? The Yankees have succeeded, securing a division lead after a mediocre start, with dominant starting pitching and the longball. But they sure could use that spark at the end of the lineup, who hit .412 in last year's ALDS against the Tigers.

Check out my analysis below and then vote in the poll (left) on the state of the Yankees.
OK, so let's sort this out. Here's who the Yankees have missed this season:
  • Gardner, for one, would be great to have back, but every time he tries to recover from his elbow injury he suffers a setback. He said in the Ledger article that he hopes to return some time around the All-Star break, but I'd say that's highly optimistic, which players usually are. I agree with the Ledger's Jeff Bradley that the Yankees are not complete without Gardner. Without him, the Yankees are really slow. Plain and simple. Nobody steals bases for this club except him. His presence on the bases helps Derek Jeter at the plate, too, as Gardner distracts the pitcher.
  • Mariano Rivera. Now, have the Yankees really missed him this season? It's hard to say yes immediately because his replacement, Rafael Soriano, has been nearly perfect. BUT, who are we kidding? A healthy Mo would only deepen the bullpen, and as Joe Girardi pointed out, the team is going to miss him in October if they get there. Any closer can have a great season, but not every closer can hold it together when the pressure is on like Mo can.
  • Michael Pineda. Again, have the Yankees really missed him? Their starting pitching has been solid without him, especially with Andy Pettitte's return to baseball (where was he last year?). With highly-touted pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances injured and struggling in Triple-A, it's important that the Yankees have good, young and healthy pitchers coming up from the minors. Pineda could be in that party next year assuming a setback-free recovery.
All things considered, the Yankees are in great shape. In terms of big pieces, one hitter, one starter and one reliever have gone down. Not bad at all. Just look at what the Red Sox have had to deal with this season, and add Clay Buchholz to that list as of today.

Other relievers have been injured, too, but their replacements have really stepped up. Their hitting in timely situations has been stunningly awful, but their league-leading power numbers have made up for the lack of clutch hitting.

What say you? I'd love to hear and respond to your comments below.

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