Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Desperate Times

The Yankees are two innings away from finishing April below .500. Again! So for the fourth consecutive season, I will be writing off their season before Memorial Day. Hopefully my present powers of prognostication prove to be as weak as they have in the previous three seasons. But I seriously doubt it for the following reasons:

  • The Yankees two most irreplaceable players, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, are on the DL. Derek Jeter, their third most important position player, still does not appear to be 100% after straining his quad early in the season. None of these men are spring chickens. Their soft tissue injuries could linger for the better part of the season.
  • The Yankees have yet to win a game pitched by Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy. At worst the youngsters were expected to anchor the back end of the rotation. I actually believed that Hughes would be an instant number two starter. Hughes has lost about 3 MPH on his fastball from this time last year, which is scary. Scarier still is that he is locating it with all the precision of someone who does something extremely imprecisely. Kennedy has average stuff across the board. He made it to the big leagues in just over a year, on the strength of his command. He simply cannot get Major Leaguers out if he doesn't hit spots.
  • Despite a recent hot streak, Johnny Damon is a hair band and it's 1991.
  • Jason Giambi is a hair band. And it's 1993!
  • They can't really keep playing .700 ball after the All-Star break every season.

If I were Cashman, I would take the following drastic measures in order to salvage the season.

  • Demote Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes immediately. Promote pitchers Darrell Rasner and Dan Giese. Plug Rasner in as the 4th starter.
  • Get Joba Chamberlain into the rotation by the end of May. In the meantime, throw your bullpen by committee every fifth day. Next time this spot comes up, use Chamberlain, Ohlendorf, and Giese for three innings a piece. Stretch Joba an extra inning every time this spot comes around. Within a few weeks, Joba will all stretched out.
  • Acquire a competent starting first baseman. I'm thinking either Nick Johnson or Adam Dunn. Both play for organizations that undervalue their on base skills. Neither figures to be part of their teams' long term plan. A couple of middling prospects should be enough to land either one.
  • Release Jason Giambi. All he could ever do was hit. And he can no longer do that. It's over.