Allow me to take a moment to dispute my friend Rex Snider’s assertion that the Yankees will win the AL Wild Card this season.
I realize that we’ve seen the Yankees come from behind in the past, but that’s a hollow argument when considering this year’s team. The New Yorkers are 6-14 in one run games, an indication that they have failed in the clutch both offensively and with their bullpen. They are pretty bad on the road, too, as their 16-25 first half record proves. And if you absolutely have to beat them, try tossing a lefthander at them; they’re just 9-14 against lefties.
My point is this; this year’s Yankees team isn’t just slightly flawed, they’re fatally flawed. When Miguel Cairo is patrolling first base, when Kyle Farnsworth is the main middle reliever out of the ‘pen, when Bobby Abreu has lost his power as well as his ability to draw walks, you’re simply not a playoff team. And I give very little credence to the idea that Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and a 44 year old Roger Clemens will all start "throwing darts", piling up wins and leading a playoff drive. There’s been so little evidence in the season’s first half that those three still have it in their arms that I refuse to think they’ll somehow turn it around in August and September. This is an old team that will have to rely more on experience and guile than baseball ability to turn it around.
As for the notion that all the Yankees have to do is acquire some middle relief pitching and they’ll get right back in the chase, I offer these two counter-arguments: 1. They’re the YANKEES. Is anyone in MLB really eager to help them improve? Not without getting a "King’s" ransom in return. If I’m a GM, the first name I throw at them is Philip Hughes. It will take a major haul in talented prospects to make any kind of deal happen, whether it’s for middle relievers, starters, position players, etc. 2. If middle relief is the easy solution, then the Orioles should be in the thick of the wild card race as well, right? After all, $40 million should fix that problem.
One more point that’s equally important. There are currently FIVE teams ahead of New York in the wild card standings. Which means that the Yankees not only have to pile up their own wins, but they have to rely on other teams to beat up on the Indians, Mariners, Twins, A’s and Blue Jays in order to gain ground. That’s an awful lot of help to hope for, to say nothing of the fact that all of those teams are younger and better than New York.
So kick back and enjoy the second half of the ’07 season. Delight in watching the Yankees suffer through a five game losing streak that put them 10+ games out in the wild card standings. And imagine the beauty of the great Roger Clemens making his final start at Yankee Stadium in front of 22,000 fans in late September with absolutely nothing on the line. As an Orioles fan, that’s about all the drama I can hope for in this lost season.
The Yankees and Orioles, both hopelessly buried.