Friday, May 6, 2011

Can The Super Nova Explode All Over The Rangers?

Now that I think about it, that was probably a poor choice of words for this column, but just ignore that for now.

What's important is that the Yankees are riding a 3-game losing streak, not hitting worth a damn, wasting good outings from pitchers not expected to provide them and not picking up pitchers from some "Meh" outings that still gave them a chance to win, and not seizing opportunities to extend their early season divisional lead.  Now they start a new series tonight, a new opportunity to get their momentum going in the right direction again, and they have a young man on the mound coming off 2 consecutive confidence-building strong starts.

That man?  Super Nova.  A.K.A. Ivan The Terrible.

Here's hoping he's got all 3 of his pitches working tonight and he's more like Ivan The Awesome.

The Downside To An All-Star Veteran Lineup

(INCOMING!!!!  Courtesy of The AP)

The Yankees are an older team.  No surprise there.  It's something that has been brought up by the MSM constantly over the last 10ish years, and justifiably so.  The Yankees' lack of youth has got them into trouble in the past, whether it's because of injuries putting people on the DL, injuries affecting guys' performances, lack of depth to cover these injuries, or dudes just flat out not being able to play the game at their previous high level anymore.  In the last few weeks, we've seen pretty much every one of those scenarios play out.

Derek Jeter was the most scrutinized position player coming into the 2011 season after his less-than-Jeterian 2010, and so far the results suggest that Jeter might be heading for the twilight of his career quicker than we anticipated.  Old mechanics, new mechanics, or a combination of both have not helped him fix his issues at the plate, and now he's hitting groundballs at a record pace with no power whatsoever.  And his range at short is pretty much equivalent to mine.  The fact that he missed yesterday's game with some sort of hip ailment is the cherry on top of that garbage sundae.

The Horse, as previously discussed, has been struggling since coming back from his sore oblique/back/whatever part of the body that is on horses.  And while there hasn't been any definitive proof yet, the weak results at the plate and talks of a "disconnect" in his swing suggest to me that he's still feeling the effects of that minor injury.  When he's been banged up over the last few seasons, it has been reflected in his performance, so logic would dictate that there could be something still wrong with him now.

And the guy brought in to provide some better backup for A-Rod, Eric Chavez, is now going to be on the shelf for a while after breaking a bone in his foot legging out a triple yesterday.  It's not something that can be tied to his previous injury history, but it's still an older player getting banged up and missing time.  And it hurts even more because Chavez had been playing like the Chavez of old all season.

Now all these dings to the veterans are bad enough, but when you consider that they open the door for the Eduardo Nunez/Ramiro Pena combination, that makes the sting even worse.  Nunez, God bless his heart, is an atrocious shortstop.  He has 5 errors already in just 22 defensive innings, and his throws to first are making the days of Chuck Knoblauch's breakdown look like an afternoon picnic in the park.  And Pena, God bless his soul, can't hit to save himself.  You could set a ball on a tee, give him an illegal aluminum softball bat, and I'd bet good money that he still wouldn't get the ball out of the infield.

Obviously none of this could have been foreseen, and obviously the Yankees weren't going to not sign/not play Jeter, A-Rod, and Chavez over Nunez and Pena just because of their age.  But it is that age that makes them risky plays, and regardless of how they've been playing, it's a bummer that their innings now have to go to Nunez and Pena, 2 below-average players.