Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Posted by el duque at 6:18 AM
Aside from their uniforms and love for the injury attorneys, Celino and Barnes - (call 88888888!) - the '15 Yankees hardly resemble last year's collection. At this time last May, three story lines dominated the Yankiverse:
1) Jeter's impending retirement, the blob that eventually consumed the team.
2) The feel-good rise of Yangervis Solarte, which was starting to fray.
3) The emergence of Masahiro Tanaka, whose elbow was starting to fray.
In June, the entire team frayed. It went 11-16. By August, Yankee Stadium was a bone yard, waiting for the retirement ceremonies to begin.
One question today dominates every Yankee fan's sense of well-being:
Are we simply repeating 2014?
Happily, I can say the answer is NO.
This year, Joe Girardi is not hamstrung by a lineup that is, essentially, a farewell tour. No knock on Jeter, but looking back, it's hard to justify a .257 ground-ball machine situated between your two best hitters. Throughout 2014, Brett Gardner batted first, Jeter second, and Jacoby Ellsbury - a lead-off batter - hitting third. Basically, we had nobody who could hit third. In the end, it killed us.
This year, Gardner and Ellsbury set the table - with A-Rod, Tex and maybe even McCann to anchor the lineup. (Two games do not the "Avengers: Age of Beltran" make.)
This is not 2014. However...
(Oh, how I hate that word. And how I hate this following sentence:)
It is a long season.
We must remember 2013, when the Yankees looked invulnerable around now. We were red hot, ascending into first in mid-May... and the team actually led the AL East until May 25, later than last year's edition. Not only that, but we anticipated a wave of returning stars to boost us, if anyone faltered.
Why were we in first? Three reasons: Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Robbie Cano. They were crushing it in the middle of the order. Moreover, we awaited the return of Curtis Granderson, A-Rod, Tex, Youkilis, Cervelli (Chris Stewart was catcher) and even Jeter, who kept reporting progress from his ankle. The fill-ins were outdoing all expectations - Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix were playing especially well. Mariano was closing, Andy was starting. Everything looked rosy.
And then came June:...11 wins and 16 losses.
Last night, the Yankees hit five home runs. This morning, we enjoy the best record in the AL. Chris Capuano is returning. Ivan Nova is healing. Beltran and Sabathia might be gathering momentum. At Scranton, Rob Refsnyder is hot, and he's gone 15 games now without an error. Everywhere, the Yankees are on fire.
Enjoy it, while it lasts. And whatever you're doing, juju-wise... don't let up. Somewhere, Preston Claiborne is looking for way home.