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Yankees Fans, This Is Your Team

June 10, 2011 - John Whittaker
Only a guy like me would think of Hoosiers while watching a Yankees-Red Sox game.

It happened to me on Wednesday, though, as the boos started getting louder and louder in the fourth inning.

About halfway through the movie, Coach Norman Dale is introducing the team to the school during a big pep assembly in the gymnasium/auditorium. As he introduces the team, the fans start to boo and then begin chanting for Jimmy Chitwood, the star player who has refused to play for the school. Coach Dale quiets the crowd and says, " I would hope you would support who we are. Not, who we are not. These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 23 nights for the next 4 months, to represent you, this high school. That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect. This is your team."

Yankees fans, this is your team. Yep, A.J. Burnett deserved to be booed for his impotent performance Wednesday. But, you'd better be ready to support him the rest of the season, because this rotation, with the exception of Phil Hughes' return from injury, is probably what you get to look forward to until the end of September. Any changes to the roster are likely to be of the buy a new outfit variety, not the surgical makeover variety.

What moves could they make, you might ask? Well, I'd think that perhaps a move at backup catcher, depending on the health of Russell Martin; definitely some bullpen help, especially since Joba Chamberlain's will need elbow surgery in addition to the impending gastric bypass (because he fat); and a backup outfielder if Andruw Jones/Nick Swisher aren't hitting. A David Cone-type deadline deal probably isn't happening.

My other piece of advice for Yankees fans is to adjust your expectations for Yankees' pitching whenever the Yankees are playing Boston. Let's take a look at the splits involving the Yankees starters in this week's Boston series — Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia.

Garcia for the season — 4-5, 3.86 ERA, 1.406 WHIP, 6.5 K/9 innings; 22 walks in 58.1 innings. Garcia vs. Boston — 0-2, 10.13 ERA; 2.125 WHIP; 6.8 K/9 innings; 6 walks in 8 innings.

Burnett for the season — 6-4, 4.37 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, 6.7 K/9 innings; 34 walks in 80 innings. Burnett vs. Boston — 0-1, 11.12 ERA, 1.941 WHIP, 4.8 K/9 innings; 4 walks in 5.2 innings.

Sabathia for the season — 7-4, 3.15 ERA, 1.240 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 innings; 28 walks in 100 innings. Sabathia vs. Boston —0-3, 6.16 ERA, 1.737 WHIP; 7.1 K/9 innings; 9 walks in 19 innings.

Boston is the best offensive team in baseball, yet Yankees fans expect quality starts every time out. Honestly, why would fans think Burnett would pitch as well against the Red Sox and their high-powered offense than he does against Tampa Bay, Chicago or Oakland? And, if Burnett doesn't stand much of a chance with his raw stuff, what happens when Freddy Garcia's out there trying everything but the vasoline ball to get hitters out? He's a Mexican Eddie Harris out there.

With those guys, be happy with anything less than 5 runs over 6 innings. That's the proper expectation for anyone not named C.C. Sabathia or Bartolo Colon at this point of the year against the Red Sox.

Now, speaking of C.C. ...

Thursday's game showed a different problem for the Yankees. Sabathia cruised for six innings, drilled David Ortiz and had the Yankees into their happy spot — entering the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead. Before the Soriano and Chamberlain injuries, this was a no-brainer. Even after Soriano proved, yet again, why you never spend big money on another team's reliever, the formula held because you had David Robertson and Chamberlain. Let C.C. start the seventh, and if he gets into trouble, you go to Robertson, then let Chamberlain handle the eighth before turning the game over to Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

Well, with two big pieces of the bullpen broken right now, Joe Girardi had no choice but to hope Sabathia could get him to the eighth inning. It didn't happen. Six batters into the seventh inning, the lead was gone. By the time Adrian Gonzalez' single up the middle scored Jason Varitek, the game was essentially over. Boston had a 4-2 lead, and we all know the Yankees weren't getting two runs off of Boston's bullpen.

The Yankees' true problem so far against Boston is a lack of offense and defense. Some people reading this will wonder how a team with a $200 million payroll can be an underdog, but the Yankees are indeed the underdog when Boston is concerned. Much like the Dallas Mavericks against the Miami Heat, the Yankees have to play perfect games n order to beat Boston, especially given the lack of Boston-ready pitching in the rotation and bullpen.

While Boston is mashing Yankees pitching, the Yankees offense has no answer for Josh Beckett and John Lester. Even in a winnable game against Tim Wakefield, the Yankees mustered nothing offensively until the game was effectively over. The Yankees couldn't do anything against Alfredo Aceves, while the Red Sox tacked on extra runs on Boone Logan and Lance Pendleton. While Boston was making all the plays it had to make, the Yankees had to overcome two costly errors by Francisco Cervelli.

I'll be the first to admit the Yankees probably didn't spend that $200 million as wisely as they could have. But, with that being the case, just like Maverick, they have to do it better and cleaner than the other guy. Right now, they're just pulling circus-stunt flybys.

Last Week's Record: 2-4.

Record, Division Standing Through 60 games: 33-27, two games behind Boston.

What I Liked This Week Jorge Posada had another good week, hitting .417 and driving in a couple of runs. Nick Swisher had a .250 week with a dinger and a few RBIs. Other than that, it was kind of a so-so week for the entire team. Maybe that's what happens when you get swept, again, by Boston.

What Concerns Me Injuries. This team has taken more hits in the last few weeks than the Hangover 2. Unlike the Hangover sequel, there are no laughs in this rainbow. The way the Yankees were going to compete was shortening the game offensively and then turning the game over to a hard-throwing, fearsome bullpen. Oops. Rafael Soriano is turning into the Dominican Carl Pavano, Joba Chamberlain's elbow appears to be made of cottage cheese and David Robertson can't pitch two innings every day. The bridge to Mariano looks like that rope crossing in the Temple of Doom right about now.

What makes those injuries even worse is that all of the things we heard about Boone Logan last year have now come true. With Chamberlain out for the next two weeks, this could have been time for Logan to shine. Instead, not only is he not getting lefthanders out, he can't throw strikes. Of course, this could have been avoided had the Yankees signed a dependable lefty reliever over the winter, but Brian Cashman opted for Pedro Feliciano, who has more appearances in the last three seasons than Rep. Anthony Weiner and Brett Favre's male pieces combined.

Brett Gardner's baserunning instincts also have me a little concerned. I've written about him needing to get better as a basestealer a few times now, but not scoring from third base on Wednesday against the Red Sox was inexcusable. Sometimes, when you're the fastest player on the field, you have to use your instincts to make good things happen. By not scoring on that play, Gardner allowed the Red Sox to stay ahead by three runs and left the double play in order for Derek Jeter, only one of the league leaders last yaer in double play grounders, costing the Yankees their best chance to tie the game. Gardner's hitting better. Let's hope he starts running better, too.

What's Coming Up (for the Yankees): Four games at home with Cleveland, three games at home with Texas.

 
 

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