Yanks mediocrity plain to see, now what?
June, 3, 2014
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- It's pretty rare that all of a team's flaws are on display in a single ballgame, but Monday's Yankees loss to the Seattle Mariners was one of those games.
Their offense collected a good number of hits off King Felix Hernandez, eight to be exact.
But seven of them were singles, and aside from one lucky bounce, the comebacker by Ichiro Suzuki that caromed off Hernandez's foot and became a two-RBI hit, none of them were particularly timely.
Their starting pitcher, David Phelps, was OK. But with that kind of an offense and Hernandez the opposing starter, just OK isn't going to be nearly good enough.
Even though they were not charged with a single error, their defense was porous, and once again, with that kind of offense and a stud throwing for the other side, the gloves have got to be absolutely leakproof.
And as for the fundamentals, such as base-running and game-awareness, well, both had moments of atrocity.
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesThe Yankees are down in the dumps after Mariners' 10-2 pounding in the Bronx.
Add it all up and it comes out an embarrassing 10-2 loss to team that now has the same number of wins as the Yankees (29), just two fewer runs (228) and a payroll ($90 million) that is less than half of what the Yankees are paying out, even with the addition of Robinson Cano.
Anyone else want to advance the theory that Cano sold out his chance to win for a few pieces of silver?
Right now, it's tough to distinguish between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners, or the Minnesota Twins, for that matter, who left the Bronx this weekend with a series win. They have spent like the big-market team they are but are playing like the middle-market teams they have come to resemble, with a couple of key differences: Their roster is loaded with players at the end of their careers, not the beginning, and there doesn't seem to be much coming up behind them.
And frankly, for all their abundance of resources, there doesn't seem to be much that they can do about it right now.
"You can't get frustrated with a 162-game schedule. You've got to stay optimistic and continue to grind," Derek Jeter said, and of course he is right.
But the way they Yankees are playing, they have to hope to be able to tread water long enough for some of their injured players to get better, and for some other teams to start shedding players and payroll at the trade deadline. That is still nearly two months away, and a lot of games can be lost between now and then.
So what can they do? Well, Kendrys Morales is still sitting around waiting for a free agent offer. Since they've already blown past Hal Steinbrenner's self-imposed but ultimately unenforced $189 million payroll cap, they could spring for him to help out at first base with Mark Teixeira's health a huge question mark.
They could cut bait on Alfredo Aceves, who no longer seems able to get anyone out, and cut bait on Matt Thornton, who was signed for two years as a lefty specialist, a job at which he has utterly failed. They can move Yangervis Solarte up in the lineup -- he hit fifth last night -- and (gasp!) consider moving Derek Jeter down.
And they can pray for the speedy recoveries of Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Michael Pineda, Shawn Kelley and CC Sabathia.
In all honestly, I expected this team to be better than it is, because I expected the offseason additions the Yankees made to solve many of the problems that plagued their offense last year. But they haven't -- the 2014 Yankees actually have a worse record (29-28) than the makeshift 2013 Yankees (32-25).
As Jeter points out, the baseball season is a long one, and a lot of things can change. But after what we saw Monday, can anyone say with any confidence that these Yankees, as currently constituted, can change very much for the better?
Jeter: Another erroneous assumption: For the second time in four games, Jeter -- who normally is the type who takes nothing for granted and would check a calendar if you told him today was Monday -- used the "A" word to explain an uncharacteristic mental mistake that cost the Yankees a run.
On Friday night, Jeter "assumed" Ichiro Suzuki had broken for home on Solarte's single against the Twins, and got himself into a rundown that deprived the Yankees of a run.
Monday, he assumed the ball that popped out of Brett Gardner's glove along the left-field line in the fourth inning was foul. In fact, he was so sure, he admitted he was about to flip the ball to a fan in the stands -- until he heard Gardner screaming at him to throw the ball in. By then, it was too late; what should have been a freak single for Kyle Seager turned into an even freakier triple, and he scored on a infield out.
"It was kind of a odd play for me, because I was playing in at third for a bunt and ended up going back for a pop up,'' he said. "The pop up started going foul so I was running in foul territory then came back, so it never even crossed my mind that it was fair. I just assumed it was foul.''
The play certainly was not the reason the Yankees lost -- it accounted for the Mariners' second run of the game, a deficit they wiped out in the bottom of the inning -- just another clue that something isn't quite right with this team.
Also, that Jeter should follow his own advice: Never assume.
Tex no sure thing: Girardi has said he hoped Teixeira, who had a cortisone shot in his surgically-repaired right wrist on Saturday, would be well enough to play in Tuesday's series opener against the Oakland Athletics and left-hander Scott Kazmir, because the wrist pains Teixeira less from the right side of the plate.
But after Monday night's loss, the manager sounded less certain that he would be able to.
“We’ll wait and see how he is when he comes in," Girardi said. "The doctor gave pretty good news. I know Tex feels better, so I think we’ll give him an opportunity to come in [Tuesday] and see what he thinks and see how he feels, and then you go from there. I can’t say definitely he’ll play or he won’t play right now. It’s too early.”
Home not so sweet: The loss was the Yankees' 10th in their last 14 games at home dating back to April 29, a streak that began with -- you guessed it -- a loss to the Mariners. This was also the seventh time this season they have allowed 10 or more runs in a game -- you read that right -- matching their total for all of 2013.