Yankee Panky 61*: Is It Wait 'Til Next Year Time Already?
by Will Weiss
In a conversation with our Banter host Alex Belth over the weekend, I said, “I haven’t seen it written anywhere, but how good does Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera for Johan Santana look right about now?” Alex’s response (and I paraphrase): “Dude, don’t even say that. Oh, man.”
Well, I’ve seen it written somewhere, but I had to do some searching. My fellow Ithaca College alum, Andrew Marchand of 1050 ESPN Radio had a similar nugget in his Tuesday blog post. He did not tap my phone.
If the Yankees don't make the playoffs, Kennedy could be the most to blame. He is one of the guys whom the Yankees decided to keep instead of getting Johan Santana.
If the Yankees had dealt Kennedy and Phil Hughes to Minnesota then Santana would likely be a Yankee. Instead Kennedy's teammates are raising their eyebrows over his words and lack of success. He is 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA.
Kennedy's lack of development, along with Phil Hughes' incomplete for this year, is going to make CC Sabathia richer.
Kennedy’s post-game comments after Friday’s debacle in Disneyland led the Yankees to send him to Scranton on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for the third time this year.
The Yankees are off today. Perhaps they will rest as they prepare for the short weekend series with the Kansas City Royals. Perhaps they will reflect on a dismal 3-7 road trip that has them in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in the post-strike, Wild-Card era.
Local papers have used the words “hapless,” “punchless,” and “stumbling” to describe the Yankees’ recent play. The Times’ headline of Monday’s recap read: “Damon Sits, and Rest of Yanks Might as Well Have.” Ouch. In that same Tyler Kepner piece, he depicts an air of abrasiveness coming from the New Joe. Previous Joe didn’t take kindly to being second-guessed, either, but he did tend to ride the experienced players, especially in the heat of a playoff chase.
Girardi has been careful not to wear down his veterans, but the batting order Monday was still surprising. Damon had five multihit games in a row and was hitting .406 (13 for 32) on the trip. Damon said he was healthy and did not know why he was benched.
“The turf sometimes can beat up his body,” Girardi said before the game. “We’ve got three days in a row with a short turnaround on Wednesday.”
Damon was 0 for 3 against the left-handed Perkins (9-3) in a game at Yankee Stadium last month. Justin Christian started that game and had a double, but he went 0 for 4 as Damon’s replacement this time.
Asked again about the move after the game, Girardi replied testily: “Justin Christian has had a lot of success off left-handers, and he’s played very well. That is why Justin Christian played.”
When players get defensive, as Kat O’Brien reports Johnny Damon did, I get the impression there’s dissension in the ranks. A player like Damon following a statement questioning his being benched with a comment like, “But I love Joe as a manager,” is sprinkles on poop. Why didn’t Girardi give Damon previous notice like he had at other points during the season? We may never know.
The players will always blame themselves for poor player and the media will point to the manager. With this in mind, I have to wonder if the pot won’t be stirred very soon signifying Girardi’s potential ouster. Losing, questionable lineups and pitching moves, and the media exacerbating matters helped contribute to Willie Randolph’s exit. I would not be surprised if Girardi was a one and done manager here.
Mike Francesa, for all his own bluster, was justified Wednesday when he ripped Hank Steinbrenner for the owner's "They're not supermen" comments that have been construed as his surrendering the season.
“The Rays lost their shortstop, left fielder and third baseman in a week. Do you hear them whining? When you have a $200 million payroll, you can’t whine,” Francesa said.
Can the Yankees make the playoffs? Yes, but it won’t be easy. Twelve of their 42 games remaining will be played against the Rays and Red Sox. Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria are on the DL for the Rays, as are notable Yankee killers Mike Lowell and Tim Wakefield. The Yankees need to sweep those 12 games to make up the ground and improve upon the 10-11 mark they’ve posted against Toronto and Baltimore. There’s also another West Coast swing looming that includes another three-game set in Anaheim.
Like Mark Knopfler, the Yankees are in Dire Straits. Not because they have six games to make up in the Wild Card and 10 in the loss column to get back in the AL East race, but nothing about their recent play, inspires confidence that they can pull it off once again. Mariano Rivera surrendering a three-run home run to Delmon Young might have been the ultimate “uh-oh” moment.
Do you think the Yankees are done? I admit that in my editorial days, I used to root for them to make the playoffs and then lose in the first round so that the seven-month grind would end. Now, free of that responsibility, I want to see them hang in there and make it interesting.
I’m not ready to wait ‘til next year, but for this column, I’m ready to wait ‘til next week …