Will The Yankees Biggest Flaw Hurt Them In October?
Every team has a flaw. Detroit’s bullpen has been up and down. The Red Sox don’t have enough starting pitching. The Angels traded for Zach Greinke because they are in the same boat. The Rangers’ defense is average at best. Baltimore looks like world-beaters one day and a team you cannot take seriously the next. Toronto can’t stay healthy. Tampa Bay can’t hit. Cleveland doesn’t have enough top to bottom. And Oakland can be shut down by a #1 starter once they come back to earth a little bit. The White Sox are the White Sox. Nothing special there.
But what about the Yankees? Well, their pitching isn’t exactly the pitching staff of the 1954 Cleveland Indians, but it has hung in there. Their bullpen is one of the best in baseball despite not having Mariano Rivera. And that lineup can really hit….home runs.
Ah. Home runs. Sure those are fun. They clear the bases quickly and chicks love them too, we have been told. But when you rely on the home run all the time, a team can lack situational hitting. This has been a problem all year for New York.
Manager Joe Girardi has said all year it isn’t a big deal because home runs are hits too. Well, that is true. But even Girardi, a National League guy for a good part of his playing and managing career, knows all too well that those Yankee teams he played for under Joe Torre were incredible at moving people over and getting the late hit in a 2-2 ballgame and then leaving it up to the bullpen. Girardi really does know this. He is smart. He went to Northwestern, remember.
So, if the Yanks are to be taken seriously, seriously as in “World Series contender,” they need more than Derek Jeter’s opposite-field hits. They need more than Curtis Granderson’s line shots into the right field seats. They need more than the sweet swing of Robinson Cano. They need more than Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez hitting fly balls into the seats. They need more than the big, bad bullpen. They need more than the September return of Andy Pettitte or the bulldog innings of CC Sabathia. They need more than Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda giving the team a chance to win. They need the above offensive players and Russell Martin and Ichiro and Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to deliver two-out hits from now on. And do it deep into games against the best of the best; Tigers, Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, etc.
Because if the Yankees don’t become situational hitters and hit in clutch spots deep into games, you can forget about it during postseason play. After all, one of the ingredients to being a great team and making an October entrée is timely hitting.
So far in 2012, the meal has yet to be made.
Article by Mike Lindsley at PinstripePassion.com