Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Yanks: Fits and starts

After beating the BloJs last night, the Yanks are 48-44, six games behind Cleveland for the wild card and seven behind the RedStiffs. By the end of the weekend (five games, including a doubleheader on Saturday), the Yanks could be back in the dumper or genuinely in the race. As bad as the season has been (snapshot: Proctor, Myers, Bruney, Villone = 1.1 IP, 4 BB last night), the Yanks are not completely in the tank.

The NY Post has been running a retrospective on the 1977 Yanks. That's the infamous Bronx Zoo team led by Reggie Jackson marked by internecine warfare, manager-owner fighting and which carried on in the middle of an horrific summer in NYC -- heat waves, the Blackout, Son of Sam, etc. The Monk went to his first baseball game that year, on July 28 when the Yanks closed out a three-game series against the Orioles by whupping the birds 14-2.

More importantly, the '77 Yanks were only TWO games better than this version through the first 92 -- that team was just 50-42; the O's were 53-39, the Red Sawx 51-38. In the second
half (game 92 was the All-Star Break), the Yanks smoked the AL by going 50-20, O's 44-25, Sax 46-26. The key stretch: a 24-3 run in August through early September that brought the Yanks from 5 games down to 4.5 up in first place.

That Yankees team had pitching depth: Gullett (14-4), Guidry (16-7), Figueroa (16-11) and Torrez (14-12), and Hunter (9-9, but 8-4 from June through August) with Tidrow and Lyle in the 'pen. This team lacks the bullpen balance that Tidrow provided to Lyle because Mo is all alone as a useful reliever (take out one worthless non-save outing of 0.1 IP/4 ER against the RedSax and his ERA is a Mo normal 2.29), but the Wang-Pettitte-Clemens-Mooooooooooose
group, with Hughes returning at the end of the month, enables the Yanks to roll out a very decent starter every game.

So there is hope, however fleeting. The '07 Yanks can still hit, can occasionally pitch, have a gamebreaker in A-Rod. But they stink on the road (19-26). If the team really expects to have a chance to reach the playoffs, it will have to do better outside the Bronx.

No comments: