The New York Yankees looked like a shoo-in to the playoffs earlier this year. At one point, the Bronx Bombers held a full 10 game cushion in the AL East. In the weeks that have followed, the Red Sox and Blue Jays have both fallen well off the pace, but the Rays and upstart Orioles have slowly walked down the mighty Yankees. Tampa Bay’s Monday victory over New York, along with Baltimore’s win over Toronto has trimmed the lead in the division to just one game over the Orioles and 2.5 over the Rays.
While the Yankees are saying all the right things about keeping confident, the injuries are starting to pile up for them. On the day they get third baseman Alex Rodriguez back from a broken hand, Robinson Cano comes up lame and could miss Tuesday’s contest.
Even with the return of A-Rod, New York continues to miss a veritable who’s who of baseball greats. Centerfielder Curtis Granderson has been out of the starting lineup for the past couple of contests, but could return on Tuesday. He was used as a pinch-hitter on Monday. Mark Teixeira is out with a calf injury and the club has been without Brett Gardner, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte for the bulk of the season.
Apparently, even club’s with payrolls North of $200 million can be hampered by injuries.
The cagey veterans that Brain Cashman brought in as reserves have done as well as could have been expected, but whether it be Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, or Eric Chavez, each player has weaknesses that get exposed with too much playing time at this stage of their careers. In order to fill the voids, Cashman has brought in Casey McGehee and Steve Pearce in recent weeks. I doubt that even in Joe Girardi’s worst nightmares was he giving significant at bats to the likes of these guys in August and September.
Rodriguez is back now, which should take some of the pressure of the rest of the order, even though A-Rod is not the hitter he once was. Teixeira is expected back within the week, and Pettitte seems to finally be making progress toward a return. While getting Pettitte back would be a boost for the rotation, I’m not sure he’ll be enough. CC Sabathia is an ace, but behind him there is a lot of question marks. The Yankees may need a full compliment of hitter to out-slug the mistakes their starters serve up to the opposition.
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