Friday, May 2, 2008

Slow motion train wreck

Last night, I again reiterated my confidence in Cashman, my plea for patience, and my general hope that Hughes (and Kennedy) will ultimately be OK. I woke up still feeling that way, but, I can't help but wonder if we're watching the onset of a slow motion train wreck. The chart below summarizes my confidence in the team making the playoffs as well as it tracks the Yanks chances of winning last night's game:Yes, the Yanks had a worse April last year and still made the playoffs. But, ARod and Posada were having career (or near-) career seasons. Joba, Kennedy, Duncan all came up later in the season and gave the vets a much needed kick in the tail. Cano was struggling then, too. This year, Damon and Abreu seem to be better, healthier. Jeter's conspicuously quiet. Hughes and Kennedy, well, you know. Giambi has become a three true outcome hitter and quite painful to watch at bat AND in the field. Pettitte is about what we could expect and Moose is actually doing a bit better. Wang, as I've written about before here, has worked himself into a new pitcher and doing quite well.

But how is this team going to make the playoffs? The short answer is, unless Pettitte, Moose and Wang are going to win 3 out of every 5 games, at least, from here on out, we're not. Joba riding in to "save" the team as a starter is an unfair burden. And if we, the fans, have learned ANYTHING (doubtful, I know) about heaping the pressure of being a savior on the young kids, it's not a fair move for Joba. We all love this kid, but what if he struggles as well? Then what? Kill him, too?

I said it last year and I repeated it this year: I am OK with missing the playoffs so long as I feel the team is moving in the right direction. Remember Hank's comments from earlier this year:

"I will be patient with the young pitchers and players. There's no question about that because I know how these players develop," he said. "But as far as missing the playoffs - if we miss the playoffs by the end of this year, I don't know how patient I'll be. But it won't be against the players. It won't be a matter of that. It will be a matter of maybe certain people in the organization could have done something else."
I can't disagree more. In fact, in a highly-egotistical move, quoting myself:
I try to maintain a long term view for the Yanks. They are not, unlike the smaller market teams, tied to a narrow window before their best players "graduate". Those smaller market studs tend to graduate to teams like the Yanks. If the Yanks have to take a post-season pause this year to set themselves up for another 5-7 year stretch of prosperity, so be it.
So now what? It's May 2nd. Let's not throw our future out in the garbage by trashing them. They are just young kids, Hughes being the youngest starter in the Majors. Give them a chance. Take a deep breath. And if this year passes and we're home in October, so be it. Next year, the albatross contracts are gone. We become a leaner organization with fiscal flexibility to make the strategic signing (hear me, CC? You too, Teix!). And hopefully, we become younger and more fun.

And not for nothing, but this kid Alberto Gonzalez is a player. He already looks better at SS than Jeter does. (Hey, where'd that lightening come from?). He should be a starter SOON. But where? Jeter's 34. Just sayin'. Even Ernie Banks moved to 1B (at age 31) and played there thru age 40. Hear me, Jeter?

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