You’ve got to admire the New York Yankees for what they have accomplished over the first few weeks of the 2013 baseball season. They have been winning while huge amounts of talent that in theory could be wearing pinstripes is sidelined. Count me among those that believed the world of injuries, as well as other American League teams, had caught up to the Yanks.
Few other teams could afford to have Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson on the payroll simultaneously, never mind lose them all at once to injuries and still put up a winning record. They also lost Nick Swisher to free agency and Phil Hughes to temporary injury (though he is back now) and have to count on 40-year-old Andy Pettitte as the staff ace and 43-year-old Mariana Rivera as the closer coming off a missed season due to, you guessed it, a major injury.
Going into Sunday’s play the Yankees were 10-6. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them at 6-10. There are several guys on this team that didn’t seem likely to be Yankees at any time during their careers and it was pieced together by the energy and acumen of general manager Brian Cashman. I’m not sure what magic buttons manager Joe Girardi is pushing, either, but he seems to be making the right calls the way he is using players that had slipped to the bottom of depth charts with other teams.
Reclamation projects galore, men who many thought had either taken their last swings in the big leagues or who have done almost nothing of late, are littering the Yankees lineup and performing well. Somebody else gave up on all of these guys and this club isn’t usually a last-chance team. Mostly the Yankees invest their millions in wooing the sexiest and the best, not the down-and-outers.
This team building was uncharacteristic, but Travis Hafner, the former Cleveland slugger, was batting .349. Vernon Wells was hitting .310 and Well hadn’t had a good year since or the other of President Bushes was in office. Lyle Overbay checks in at a shade up. 270. And the Red Sox gave up on Kevin Youkilis (.295) going on two years ago. Whether part of their motivation is just getting another chance no one can tell, but they are playing as well as their minds told them they still could.
CC Sabathia has been as good or better than as anyone else in the AL on the mound and he is the anchor of the rotation.
Meanwhile, remaining All-Star Robinson Cano is hitting around .320 and even the aging Ichiro Suzuki‘s bat is starting to heat up after an abysmal start. Lead-off man Billy Gardner generally does a good job and one by one some of the position players will make their way back into active duty. Granderson may be first, or Teixeira. Jeter is starting to look doubtful for the season and so is Rodriguez, but they, too, could fool us.
This is one time I thought the Yankees were going to sink like a stone and they easily could have gotten off to a lousy start. Maybe the American League East Division is not as tough as we thought it was and the Yankees can contend for the playoffs even without getting any of their high-priced wounded back.