September 13, 2013

Talking points: Gardner's injury, Jeter's career, A-Rod's resurgence, Soriano's spark and the wild card

There's so much to talk about in Yankeeland right now I just want to jump right in.

Bye Bye, Brett
This just in: The Yankees leadoff hitter Brett Gardner has a Grade 1 left oblique strain and is likely out for the year. Putting the Yankees' 2013 injury epidemic in perspective, the Yankees have used 54 players this season. The most players used in a season by any team ever? 59.

Honestly, he hasn't had as good a season as I'd hoped for (.273 AVG, .344 OBP, 24/32 SB/CS), but it's still a crushing loss because the Yankees don't have a good replacement for him. Ichiro is the next closest thing to Gardner, but Joe Girardi has selected Curtis Granderson to hit leadoff—at least for tonight. 

Knowing When To Quit
Mike Mussina left the game on top with his first 20-win season. Was it too soon? Probably. Rickey Henderson swiped 11 bases in his final two seasons combined, adding to his comfortable all-time lead. Was 1,406 his lucky number growing up or something?

After Derek Jeter was recently declared out for the season, Brian Cashman said that no one has seen his last game. The Captain is 39 years old, and, following a season in which he led the league in hits and plate appearances, he'll end 2013 with just 17 games played.

Jeter has an $8 million player option to play next season if he wants. But here's the thing, why would he want to keep playing? Because he loves the game? There's always that, but, as I've written before, I can't see Jeter overstaying his welcome. He puts the team before his individual records, and if he doesn't believe he can help the Yankees win next year then he'll hang 'em up. 

For me, it's simple: He can't run, he can't play short, he doesn't have the power that Mickey Mantle had to induce walks, and most importantly, he just can't stay healthy. A recovery at age 40 next year isn't probable. This isn't too soon, and it's not really too late. It's the right time to retire.

The A-Rod Saga
Deadspin's Tom Ley put it perfectly. My thoughts exactly:
"It's endlessly amusing that this is where the Yankees find themselves in their relationship with Rodriguez: desperately wishing that he would just disappear forever, while simultaneously relying on him to help lead the team's playoff push. And thanks to Rodriguez's refusal to bend his knee and accept Bud Selig's 211-game suspension without an appeal—Rodriguez can keep playing until his appeal hearing, which will likely be delayed until the Yankees season ends—MLB can't do anything but watch in horror as the game's greatest villain plays hero."
What could be more awkward? If A-Rod raises another World Series trophy over his head in six weeks to the sound of cheers and boos.

Where Have You Been?!
Bobby Abreu and Ichiro Suzuki turned their seasons around in 2006 and 2012, respectively, after the Yankees acquired them at the trade deadline. This year, Alfonso Soriano has nearly matched his production output for the Cubs in 93 games (17 HR, 51 RBI) in just 45 games with the Yankees (15 HR, 47 RBI).

A-Rod has been a great force in this lineup, but it's really been Soriano who has carried the Yankees in the second half. Soriano's second half is no match for Miguel Cabrera's ridiculous season, but he surely deserves at least a few MVP votes for his production and clutch hitting.

A Wild Finish
Despite all the injuries and A-Roid hoopla, the Yankees enter this weekend's series with the Red Sox one game behind the Rays for the second wild card spot. These next two weeks are going to be really exciting, and the stadium might shake in the last three home games of the season against the Rays. I'll be there for the last two to see Mo. Who's with me???

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