Thursday, February 18, 2016
Posted by el duque at 6:52 AM
In August, we went 14-14, then we did the same in September. We barely crawled to the finish line - losing six of our last seven. We looked like Trenton against the Redsocks, then couldn't even beat the horribly slumping O's. If the season had lasted one extra week, we might not have made the Wild Card - oh, that wonderful night when we scraped out three hits. Three. Fricking. Hits.
All of which begs one still-unanswered question: WTF?
I believe Yankee fans still suffer from 2015 PTSD, based on the team's Met-like collapse. There are several theories of what happened. Each is suitably terrifying.
Theory Number One: They were old, gassy and decrepit.
This is popular among End of Yankee Days evangelicals. Certainly, A-Rod looked ready for the turpentine factory. But the fact is, old man Beltran was streaking, and young Greg Bird - whom we'll next see play under the administration of President Trump - was on fire. It was Ellsbury and Gardner, who turned into Abe and Zolio Almonte - leaving two rally killers atop our lineup. Were they old, or hurt, or both?
If Theory Number One holds, well, Houston, we have a problem... basically because the essence of this team will be to have aged yet another year. Why would we think A-Rod can go the full season, when he couldn't do it last year? But with regards to Gards, we do have one advantage: Several young OFers - Heathcott, Williams, Gamel and Aaron Judge will sit at Triple A. Plus we have Aaron Hicks from Minnesota. Any one of them might step in and provide a jolt.
Still, if the Yankees are playing well in July, can we have faith in the team lasting through October? The answer - right now - is, no.
Theory Number Two: Tex's injury.
The 2015 Yankees were two teams: With Teixeira, and without. Tex got his last hit for the team on August 15. He fouled a ball off his foot, broke something, struggled, rested, and then got an MRI and said goodbye. Even with Greg Bird hitting well, we were never the same.
This theory terrifies us because Tex won't be any less brittle, and we no longer have Bird. It's a crazy stretch to think that Dustin Ackley is our backup 1B. Right now, that's the plan.
Theory Number Three: CC's collapse.
The idea goes that one of the team's spiritual leaders was falling apart, even if his pitching was improving. Clearly, something was seriously wrong inside Sabathia. You just don't check into rehab on the eve of the playoffs unless something is has gone kaput in the universe.
I can't begin to fathom the personal issues Sabathia was facing, but it had to affect his teammates. I don't think an entire team should fall apart because of Sabathia, but the street fight incident in Toronto obviously was a harbinger of unanswered problems.
Theory Number Four: Girardi bungled it.
Some of you are ardent Giradi bashers. I've not been one - I think he's a stand-up guy - but there's no way anybody can spin 2015 as a good year for management.
Meltdowns are supposed to happen to other teams - not the Yankees. Girardi owned this one. Once he lost faith in his middle-innings bullpen - sometime in July - he started overusing Betances and Miller. By August, he was abusing them. This year, the Yankees have given him the best bullpen threesome baseball has seen in many years. How will he use it?
Will our three-stopper system be cracking under the strain by mid-August? And why, why, why did we trade Justin Wilson for two middling Triple A pitchers? How bad is the rotation? Does Cashman know something we don't?
Girardi looks more and more like Tom Coughlin of the 2015 Jersey Giants. He may have the faith of the organization, but how many seasons can a New York team finish out of the running, before the fan base - and YES ratings - demands a change? We are not the Knicks, but we are turning into the Giants. And Coughlin is no more.
So WTF happened?