Friday, August 22, 2008

The Fear Is Gone With The Yankees

  • The absence of The Boss is adversely affecting the Yankees in the short-term:
I caught a glimpse of Alex Rodriguez standing next to bench coach Rob Thomson and the
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thought came to me that with the retirement of George Steinbrenner and the handing of the reins over to his sons, the fear that permeated the organization is gone. It used to be that the Yankees play in recent months would have at least merited an outburst from The Boss; at worst there would have been a string of firings and desperate deals that may or may not have made sense; may or may not have worked out.
There's a comfort zone that people who deliberate before reacting are running the team and the one person in the front office who bloviates, Hank Steinbrenner, is all talk, no action and prone to drastic fluctuations in his mood depending on the time of day. This can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing. Even with all of his capricious, bullying and nonsensical maneuvers, there was always a sense that George wasn't going to allow things to spiral out of control as they have without doing something; that he would have seen the rash of injuries and ineffectiveness that the young
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starting pitchers have undergone and called pitching coach Dave Eiland in on the carpet and perhaps fired him; that the odd strategic decisions that Joe Girardi has made wouldn't disappear into the wind without the manager being asked what he was thinking about; that the rightful criticism that Johnny Damon is now receiving for his inept play in center field would elicit a rapid change to someone who could actually play the position.
While the departure of the fire-breathing Boss was probably met with some relief in certain quarters, there's something missing from the Yankees that no amount of meetings, thoughtfulness and sound reasoning will be able to replace----a sense of urgency; with Hank's empty threats and the absence of a panic button in the clubhouse, there's really no reason to get uptight about their current predicament, and that's not a good thing.
  • Speaking of Johnny Damon; Blue Jays 14-Yankees 3:
Before things got out-of-hand, Damon misplayed two balls----one in which it appeared that he and Bobby Abreu got their signals crossed; and another looping liner that most center fielders would have caught and appeared to (justifiably) irritate pitcher Sidney Ponson. This
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problem is affecting the entire outfield because the right and left fielders are used to the center fielder taking every ball he can get to and now they have to vacillate and decide whether to take charge themselves because of Damon. As for Damon himself, either he's out of practice in center field because he's spent so little time out there in the past two years or he's unable to play the position anymore.
It's one thing to keep a player with Damon's little league arm out there if he's doing everything else correctly, but he's a pure liability and the Yankees have three options as far as I can see: A) leave Damon out there and hope that he gets his instincts back and is at least
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adequate at the position; B) they can recall Melky Cabrera with the excuse that his lackadaisical play warranted a session of "time-out" in the minors and now he's back ready to play again; or C) they can get a defensive minded center fielder from elsewhere; one name that they could get for nothing more than money is Andruw Jones. The Dodgers would give him away----literally----just to get out from under his $18 million salary for next year and he can't hit anymore, but he can still go get the ball in center field. Ordinarily, such a financially imprudent move would be out of the question for most teams, but the Yankees can afford it and they can't afford to keep Damon in center field if he's going to play this kind of defense. Something has to be done.
  • In retrospect---Ivan Rodriguez for Kyle Farnsworth:
Ivan Rodriguez's production has been far worse for the Yankees than it was for the Tigers,
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but he hasn't hit for power for years (I wonder why; hmmmmmm...) and he hasn't hit at all since coming to New York. While it was a good idea to trade the always hair-trigger performance of Kyle Farnsworth for Rodriguez, it really hasn't worked for either side. If this is the batting performance they were going to get from Rodriguez, they may as well have kept writing Jose Molina's name in the lineup because his defensive prowess is far superior to that of Rodriguez and they're hitting almost identically, which is to say not at all.
  • The Mets collection of Reyeses:
Since they signed reliever Al Reyes, the Mets now have four Reyeses in their system----Jose, Argenis, Jose A, and now Al. If they had the motivation, I'm sure they could
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swing deals for Dennys Reyes from the Twins; Jo-Jo Reyes from the Braves; the two Angel Reyeses from the Yankees and Tigers respectively; Carlos Reyes from the Yankees; Rene Reyes from the Cubs; and Anthony Reyes from the Indians (did he bring his specially built Tony La Russa doghouse from St. Louis to Cleveland and if so, did he have to check it at the airport?) They'd be unlikely to win many games, but at least they'd set a record for having the most Reyeses, for what it's worth. They're starting to look like the clone troops from Star Wars, except they're not fashioned from a sampling from Jango Fett and they're not identical; they're just a group of different Reyeses.

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