Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
It’s really much ado about nothing. Sure, the Yankees always make the playoffs. Sure, they have the highest payroll in baseball. Sure, they have Hall of Famers and/or All-Stars and/or World Series winners galore. But, as Derek Jeter often says, you can’t compare this group to the 1996-2001 Yankees. He’s right – there’s no comparison.
So what does it all mean? The reality is, even if a miracle occurs (virtually impossible), the Yankees are in the same boat (or worse) that they’ve been in for the last (at least) three years. Who are they going to beat in the playoffs?
There are problems galore in Yankeeland. Robinson Cano? When he was hitting about .150 in late May, some “experts” said, “don’t worry, he’ll hit .320.” Well, he is a better hitter in warm weather and made a huge charge in the past to go over .300, but people don’t understand how hard it is to hit .320 with a good start. Cano’s on-base percentage isn’t even close to .320. Maybe it was that big contract they gave him (why?).
A-Rod? Maybe too much on his mind with his marital woes, but he’s fast becoming the greatest player to never win a World Series. His late inning problems this year are well-documented (I think the stat is one RBI in the ninth inning all season), but it’s much more basic than that. On Saturday, with a game on the line, A-Rod hits a hard one-hopper to third, first and second nobody out, Yankees down a run, bottom of the ninth. A-Rod doesn’t look just once, BUT TWICE, at the ball he hit and gets thrown out at first by an eyelash. He definitely beats the throw (he might have actually beaten it anyway) if he simply runs to first without lookjng over his shoulder towards third. Stunning stuff.
We could go on and on but you get the point. Injuries – sure, virtually nothing from Posada, from Matsui and most of all from Wang (maybe everyone now understands what an ace he really is when you lose those 19 wins). But injuries are part of the game.
Joe Girardi? Well, frankly, kind of a disappointment. He’s kept his head with the media although you can tell when he’s upset. But from the mystery we’ll let Mike Mussina pitch to Manny to the I won’t give Johnny Damon the bunt sign because he’s not “comfortable” bunting (Lyle Overbay, with ONE career sac bunt before Saturday, laid down a beauty to, essentially, win the game for Toronto) to not having a real feel for a pitching staff that has done, overall, a decent job, he just hasn’t quite gotten it right. Is it his fault? Yes and no, but the Yankees wouldn’t be significantly better with Joe Torre, who’s having his own struggles with the Dodgers.
Don’t forget the different factors in play this year as well. Tampa Bay? Say what you want about them, but they’ve always had a good eight and this year their pitching has clicked. But there was never an issue in the past – the Yankees and Red Sox would battle for the division and the loser was almost a sure thing to win the Wild Card. Now, with Tampa Bay looking down at both of them, the Yankees are the odd team out.
Minnesota? Well, it doesn’t look like the Yankees can jump either the Red Sox or the Twins (or White Sox if the Twins are in first). But it’s much harder at this late date to jump two teams than it is to jump one.
All in all, a disappointing year for Yankee fans. But what about the rebuilding process, you say? Well, what about it. The Yankees pitching is still questionable at best and they’ve probably performed as well or better (as a staff) than one would have thought before the season. Keeping Hughes and Kennedy and no Santana now looks foolish. But who thought Hughes and Kennedy would combine to be so feeble? Nobody at the Stadium, that’s for sure.
On the field, do they re-sign Bobby Abreu? He’s been unbelievable since the All-Star break (around .350) on a team that (unbelievably) can’t hit. But he also, as he proved in Boston in that disastrous seven-run inning which, in this writer’s opinion, ended their playoff run, that he’s still afraid of walls by failing to go near the wall to catch a very catchable ball. That’s not going to change.
Pitching-wise, Pettitte? Mussina? Kennedy/Hughes? Pavano (the best pitcher on the staff now in his contract year – you can’t make this stuff up)?
At the trade deadline, the Yankees came up with Ivan Rodriguez. A disappointment. The Red Sox came up with Jason Bay (an RBI per game for 25 games), who is actually playing better than Manny Ramirez was when Manny was trying for the Red Sox. And Paul Byrd, a solid pitcher. And somehow the Red Sox also got Mark Kotsay, an instant contributor.
Could the Yankees do some damage if they make the playoffs? Very unlikely as they are no better than they’ve been for the last three disastrous first-round exits. Nowadays it’s fashionable to say the playoffs are a “crapshoot.” Anything can happen. Funny, but you NEVER heard that in New York from 1996-2001. In fact, when Oakland GM Billy Beane would come on New York radio and say that, he was mocked for saying it. Then, a few years later, Joe Torre said it and it became the gospel. Anything can happen in the playoffs. Well, it was rarely that way in the past.
So, it really doesn’t matter if the Yankees make the playoffs or not. It says here that they won’t but, even if they do, it’s hard to believe they’re going anywhere this year.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.