The Bronx Breeze: Bronx Bombshell

Who knew that Curtis Granderson would be the straw that stirs the drink in 2011 for the New York Yankees? (J. Meric/Getty Images)

Hello readers! My name is Chris McKeown and I’ve signed on as a columnist here at Through the Fence Baseball. I look forward to covering the New York Yankees, my favorite team, and we’ll see where it takes us! Let me share a little bit about myself before I dig in. In the fall, I’ll be entering my sophomore year at Penn State University. I’m 19-years-old and currently reside in Connecticut. I was fortunate to have had season tickets in the bleachers last year at Yankee Stadium, and it was quite the experience. I plan on venturing out to the stadium as often as I can this season, as well. I’m also a front-page writer over at Pinstripe Alley (Under the username “Yankees2”). Enough about me, let’s talk Yankees.

Here are my thoughts on the week that was in Yankeeland.

I can hear it now, probably because I’m listening to the radio. “The Yankees are a third-place team,” “The Yankees are garbage” and “They’re a bunch of aging players and are in a boatload of trouble.” As dear Lee Corso often says on College Gameday, “Not so fast, my friend.” Let me be the first to tell you that it’s not quite time to jump off the bandwagon.

The New York Yankees are in the midst of a terrible stretch of games. If anyone has bothered watching over the past week, I have a feeling you’d agree with me. From a horrendous showing at the plate with runners in scoring position to botched plays in the infield to “Posada-Gate”, things seem to be falling apart at the seams. Here are a few statistics that are mind-boggling.

  • 11 errors over the past 14 games.
  • 9-for-50 (.180) with RISP during the home stand.
  • 52 runners stranded on base during the home stand.
  • Since April 23, Alex Rodriguez is batting .171 with one homer and six RBI. OBP is .236.
  • Jorge Posada is 0-for-24 against lefties this year.

The Yankees welcomed their hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox, to the Bronx for a three-game set this past weekend and were swept away. This was the first three-game sweep of the Yankees by the Red Sox in the new stadium. Boston now seems resurrected, having reached the .500 plateau and looking to keep its momentum going as they headed back to Fenway Park.

Dropping two out of three to the Kansas City Royals didn’t exactly help, either.

Leaving their own house of horrors to travel down to Tampa Bay, the Yankees weren’t helped much either. I thought for sure last night’s game was in the bag after Curtis Granderson’s monstrous three-run homer, but think again. Tampa Bay scores more than five runs at home for the first time all season and bounces back to take the first of two against the Yankees.

And down goes Swisher! A far too common sight for Yankees fans this season. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Now let’s examine why not all is gloom and doom.

  1. It’s May 17. Let’s be frank, almost 25 percent of the season is now over. A five-game losing streak happens at Yankee Stadium and suddenly the sky is falling. Sure, a six-game losing streak hasn’t been seen since 2007, but every team goes through slumps. The Yankees have hardly had a stretch this season where things were clicking on all cylinders. Right now, most things are just going wrong. The bullpen can’t seem to hold a lead for the life of them, the offense fell one run short four times in those six losses and fielding has been sloppy, to say the least. Imagine if the Yankees had a start to the season like Boston did? I couldn’t even imagine what type of nonsense would be spoken about how the team is aging and they can’t hit or pitch anymore. Tampa Bay and Boston have been through slumps already. Now it’s New York’s turn.
  2. They’re three games back of Tampa Bay, not 10 games back. Sure, a sweep of this two game series would have put the Yankees back in first. But at this point, I think, as soon as the Yankees win a game, all of this will just be a part of the past.
  3. The Yankees rarely get off to hot starts in April and May. Other than last year, when the Yankees went 25-14 over their first 39 games, the Yankees normally aren’t sprinting out of the gate. In 2009, they sat at 20-17;  2008, 19-20; 2007, 18-21; 2006, 23-16; and 2005, 20-19. You get the point. I’m not saying that because of the past, they’ll be fine (because each team is different from the other). However, each of those teams went on to make the playoffs with the exception of 2008; it’s definitely possible to come back from a shoddy start.
  4. Boston is becoming the team we thought they were. Did everyone really expect Boston to be under .500 for the remainder of the season? It was a blessing that they got off to such a horrendous start. Their pitching is beginning to lead the way, thanks in large part to resurgence of Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are starting to show that they’re worth the money invested in them. This is what I’ve been most nervous for, and they’re getting hot when they need to. At 21-20, I seriously doubt they’ll see sub-.500 again this season.
  5. The Jorge Posada dilemma is over and done with. This just added unnecessary drama to the already painful week of baseball. The entire story was overblown. In the future, things like this need to be kept under wraps and dealt with internally, not through the media. I don’t blame Posada for needing to take a day off and clear his head after such a tumultuous start. Hitting .165 and no longer catching is clearly eating away at his pride, and he let it get the best of him on Saturday. He apologized to Joe Girardi and that’s about the extent of it. I’m not excusing Posada’s actions, but this garbage needs to be left behind if the Yankees wish to move on. Once Posada starts hitting at a better clip, this talk will be history.
  6. Nearly everyone is underperforming. A-Rod has not, all of a sudden, lost his magical swing. Nick Swisher, despite the fact that he works plenty of walks, is not a .217 hitter. Jorge Posada is not a .165 hitter and Derek Jeter certainly isn’t a .312 on-base player. The only player who seems to be totally locked in at the moment is Curtis Granderson with his 14 homers. This offense is one of the most feared in the game, and when they come around, it’s going to be glorious. Maybe the reason for such panic is because the Yankees haven’t experienced a six-game losing streak since 2007. We’ve still got a lot to unravel about this Yankee team over the next four months. In all honesty, there is no need to panic just yet. I think that time comes when the Yankees are under .500 in late June or are eight games back of first around that time. Until then, hold out and the storm will be weathered sooner rather than later.

Week ahead bold predictions: This week, I’ll stick with two predictions. The Yankees will be over .500 on Monday and Alex Rodriguez will hit three homers by then. (Editor’s note: This article was submitted prior to the Yankees-Rays start time today.)

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