A Baseball Blog Attempting To Balance Rationality, Basic Logic, And Statistical Analysis With Rabid Yankee Homerism
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
No Time To Panic, Or The Perfect Time?
I don't think I'd rank it up there with Pulp Fiction or A Clockwork Orange on my list of all-time favorite movies, but gun to my head, I don't think there's any way I could come up with a top 10 and leave out Toy Story. That movie is flat out awesome, and if you don't agree then you have less of a soul than even I. Arguably the best scene in that movie is the scene shown above in which Woody and Buzz Lightyear, alone and exposed in the outside world for the first time, argue about how best to handle the situation. Bizarre as it may seem, that scene lends itself well to explaining the predicament in which the Yankees currently find themselves, and whether or not it's time to panic.
You could take the Buzz Lightyear approach to this and believe that it's not time to panic because the Yankees are absolutely ravaged with injuries to key players right now, and as these players (Teix, Andy, Nova, and as of Monday A-Rod) come back things will start to turn around. There's no denying that those guys are better players than Jayson Nix, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Nix, and Freddy Garcia, and so logic would dictate that adding better players back into the mix at the expense of lesser players gives the Yankees a better chance to win.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it's too simplistic, and like Buzz's thought process, not entirely tuned in with the reality of the situation. This is where the Woody approach comes in, where it's the perfect the time to panic because players coming back doesn't guarantee, or even imply, anything. Remember that Alex Rodriguez came back on Monday after just 2 rehab outings, 1 at DH and 1 in the field. It's almost a sure bet that he's playing at less than 100%, and with the dings he's already accumulated it can be assumed that Teix won't be completely healthy whenever he returns to the lineup either. Andy is already on an "accelerated" rehab schedule, Nova probably won't be far behind, and they'll both attempt to come back after throwing nothing more than a few simulated games, hardly adequate rehab work to accurately evaluate a player's health and recovery from his injuries or prepare him to perform at his best in the middle of what could be a very tight pennant race.
And that's not even factoring in guys like Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, who have both left and missed games in the last week because of leg injuries, Derek Jeter, who had a funky-looking stride running out his 8th-inning single last night, or CC Sabathia, who still has whispers about his elbow. We're already in the time of year where nobody is at 100%, and the Yankees' situation gives them no choice but to play their best players even if they need another day or 2 of rest so they're going to rush everybody back. But when that everybody is the core of your team and they're playing hurt, what's to say that their presence is automatically going to have a positive effect? What's to say they don't just end up right back on the DL with a more severe injury?
Buzz never saw the need to panic because he was blissfully unaware of the reality of his environment and how he fit into it. Woody saw every reason to panic because he lived in that reality, knew all the dangers and pitfalls in said reality, and knew what the results could be. The Yankees' present situation is somewhere in the middle of those 2 extremes, but there are elements of Buzz and Woody's respective reactions to the adversity they were dealt that apply to the Yankees' situation and how they can or can't turn it around.
Personally, I don't think it's time to panic. I can't and won't sound the alarm and start launching the lifeboats when the team is still in first place and there are still plenty of games to play, and to do so is a bit foolish. But at the same time, I think putting all one's eggs into the "guys will come off the DL and fix things" basket is a misguided feeling to have. The problems the Yankees have right now are the same problems they had when everybody wasn't on the DL. Their hitters weren't hitting with RISP and their pitchers were giving up too many HR months ago, and some of the guys on the DL were part of that problem. There's no guarantee that them coming back is an automatic solution. So while it's not time to panic in my book, it's time to be very concerned and very worried about these final 27 games. This isn't as simple as rendezvousing with Star Command and cuing up the Randy Newman music. A lot of things need to change quickly and getting healthier is just one of those things.