Monday, May 18, 2015
Posted by el duque at 6:24 AM
The Yankees yesterday were shutout for the first time all year!
Yep. That was our first full-game whiff. It's hard to imagine that a team whose batting averages - after the first three hitters - are .248, .237, .234, .236, .177, and .204 - had not been shutout until yesterday. That's because several of our one-run games - like Thursday night against Tampa, when A-Rod homered in the ninth to cut the deficit to 6-1 - felt like shutouts (sort of the way wind-chill factor makes a zero-degree winter day feel colder.) And then there was Friday's 12-1 loss to KC. That was not a shutout. Just a shellacking.
No... a spanking. That's what it was. A trip to the old woodshed. Yesterday was our first 2015 shutout, but it was certainly not our first spanking.
Yesterday's visit with Mr. Hairbrush occurred while Rob Refsnyder - down at Scranton - was hitting 2 home runs, lifting his average to .304. He has gotten hot, after the starting the season in a deep hitting and fielding funk. Refsnyder is an outfielder still learning 2B. But soon, it won't matter. Ready or not, he's going to have to botch grounders in New York, because Stephen Drew is not cutting it.
Yesterday, Drew went 0-4 with a strikeout. One of the most fascinating aspects of Drew's slow-motion career implosion is his apparent inability - or unwillingness - to adjust to defensive over-shifts. You'd think a guy hitting .177 - who is not a slugger - can learn to go to the opposite field or bunt his way on base. Yet Drew swings away, as if indifferent to the defensive realignments. The Yankees this year have two batting coaches - TWO. Can neither of them save this guy?
But let's face it: As long as the Evils remain in first, Refsnyder will slog on in Scranton, and Drew will journey deeper into the void. Lately, he is sharing time with Jose Pirela, also a defensive liability. (Last year on this date, Brian Roberts was hitting .250 and batting second, seemingly on an upward trajectory. Over the next month, Roberts fell apart and was cruelly jettisoned before earning a bonus paycheck. But Roberts - at the end of his Yankee trial - was still hitting .237. Yep... as bad as he was, Roberts was an offensive surge, compared to the last five putrid batters in yesterday's first shutout lineup.)
And so it also goes with Carlos Beltran, he of the .234 average. Because last year we saddled ourselves with Beltran's three-year deal, it really doesn't matter whether Slade Heathcott (.288) or Ramon Flores (.281) are hitting at Scranton. Neither will get a shot, until Beltran splatters against a wall or tweaks a gonad while tying his shoe.
The Yankee strategy seems to be this: As long as we're in first, ignore the millstones. The AL East looks bad - as it did last year, when the Yankees held first place until May 22.
Trouble is, you don't need to be a cow to know the milk is sour. The AL East looks weak now, but sooner or later, Boston or Baltimore will rattle off an eight-game winning streak. The Yankees are squandering a month, when they might have put distance between them and the division. Eventually, injuries will cripple this old, brittle team. Eventually, the bullpen and rotation will snap.
Hate to be a pessimist on a first-place team, one that only yesterday suffered its first shutout of the year! But the Yankees look far more like last year's dreary Wild Card also-rans than they do any of the Division champs of the early 2000s.
So now, we just stand on the ice and listen to it crack? We're in first by one game over Tampa. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks. Will we beat last year's team and stay in first beyond Friday? Yeesh. May 22 seems a long, long time away. As for October, you can't even see it from here.