Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Panic in Junkeeland

In today's New York Post, there were three articles that expressed a lot of worry about the current state of the Yankees. Mike Vaccaro's "Trouble in Paradise" deals with the many issues the Yankees are currently facing, and the Yankee fan's ultimate fear that (gasp!) they eventually won't make the playoffs (try telling that to the Brewers fans, who'd love to see their team crack .500). And then there's Joel Sherman's piece, about how the Sox were afraid of another A-Schmuck situation when they got priced out of Beltran, and how in the end the Yankees cheaped out. Sherman talks about the negative impact the Yanks' non-move has had on their hole-filled lineup. Finally, beat writer George King talks about the general issues of this struggle: the lackluster hitting, A-Schmuck and Giambi's iron gloves, the bad starting pitching, and the disappearance of Mariano.

Of course, it's never too early for the Junkees to get worried. Hell, this is the same team that fired Yogi Berra and Bob Lemon one month into the season back in the '80's! (Although Joe Snorre has no worries about that. King George isn't stupid enough to alienate all the Snorre-loving Junkee fans.)

The Yanks have struggled previously in their championship run, but this is starting to look different. Back in the day, you knew things would work themselves out. Guys like O'Neill and Brosius would start hitting, and pitchers like Cone and Pettitte would start stepping it up once they got into a groove.

But this year, can you really see some of these guys stepping it up? Bernie looks done. So does Tino. Juice-less Giambi can't hit or field. These guys are not going to get much better as the season progresses. Not to mention one-year wonder Tony Womack and 33-year old catcher Jorge Posada, who's still waiting for his first extra-base hit.

And Wright and Pavano are question marks. So far, we haven't seen the '04 versions of these guys (though Pavano was good in his first game), and there's reason to believe their '01-'02 forms will pop up. Moose is 36, and his best days are behind him. And RJ might finally be declining.

As for the bullpen, if Rivera can't beat the Sox, they're in trouble. Flush Gordon and Felix Rodriguez won't be nearly enough. And PR-move Mike Stanton was a disaster waiting to happen. The Yanks need a decent lefty in the pen to get Ortiz, Varitek, and Nixon out.

The past few years, a Junkee fan could look at his team struggling in April and say with confidence that things would come together. Not this year.

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