Friday, May 2, 2014

Mayday, mayday, mayday... The S.S. Yankee hull has been breached, and we are taking on water

OK, stop the movie! I've seen enough! The boat sinks, Leonardo freezes, and the old lady cries. But wait: This is not a flick. This is the YES Network Pre-Apocalypse Show, and we Yankee fans are going through bad omens the way Miley Cyrus does home pregnancy tests. Stop this, now, please, no more!

The latest bad sign is Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankee version of that missing Malaysian jet liner. Over the last three months of his career, Kuroda has been one of baseball's worst starters. It began last August, when we watched Kuroda wilt like a marshmallow in a microwave. We blamed Joe Girardi for re-enacting Joe Torre's relationship to Scott Proctor. We figured Hiroki blew a tire and just needed time in the garage. He'd return in 2014 with an oil-change, and this time, Joe would limit the miles.

Well, that hasn't happened. Kuroda has given us one decent start, and the rest have been shipwrecks. Last night, he couldn't solve Seattle, which had been in a deep hitting drought before reaching New York. (As Tampa had been, before the Yanks arrived.) So now what? It's too early to give up on Kuroda. The brutal truth is that he can't even skip a start. There's nobody else in the garage. In fact, everywhere, the Yankees show glaring weaknesses. One more injury and... poof... and really, does anyone NOT expect more injuries? Look at the ages of our players.

This team could be wrestling with .500 through the All-Star break. Under the expanded Selig playoff follies, mediocrity remains in the race through September. Thus, we could trade for more salary-challenged veterans - a 2014 crop of Alfonsos and Ichiros. Hard to believe, but we could actually get older.  

Which leads us to The Question of the Apocalypse: Having already fire-hosed $400 million onto this team, will the Yankee brain trust in late June bundle prospects for some Cliff Lee-type stopgap, floating us toward a 1980s re-enactment?

Two years ago, in the face of  Armageddon, the Redsocks scrapped their team and changed their direction. Do the Yankees have the discipline to do likewise?

This we know: If the Yankees Flight 370 falls off radar, YES ratings will sink like the Titanic. The Mets cannot be terrible forever. Someday, they will suddenly be the darlings of NYC. That will leave Hal 9000 facing Rupert Murdoch - the owner of YES, (which is actually considered more valuable than the Yankees) - who is not a fun partner, when the boat is nearly underwater.

Will the Yankees do the right thing? Because for the first time in at least three years, you can look out at the farm system and actually see a nice little wave of prospects in the distance. One can imagine an influx of youth arriving in the second half of 2015. But will they still be wearing Pinstripes? Or will we be watching The New Advertures of Old Hiroki?

They can reboot the Spider-Man franchise, and everything is fine. But when the film is The Titanic, folks, you can get new actors and effects, but the ending cannot change.

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