The New York Yankees went west last week, while their offense continued to go south. Sadly, that was the least of their problems after a West Coast road trip where the Anti-Bombers were 4-6, struggling to score runs in almost all of their games. No sooner had they gotten back to the Bronx than Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis both headed back to the disabled list.
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Neither looked particularly good upon their returns from the DL a couple of weeks ago, especially Youkilis. Now Youkilis is likely gone for good. He is projected to be out 10 to 12 weeks after surgery for a herniated disc. Oh, Youk. We hardly knew you in pinstripes. Why GM Brian Cashman decided to sign a guy with a history of back injuries to replace the ailing Alex Rodriguez is anybody’s guess. Of course, Cashman is the same man who signed the oft-injured Eric Chavez last year to fill the same role.
Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury was aggravated during this trip. He feels pain when he hits from the left side of the plate. The 18-inning crap-fest in Oakland certainly didn’t help. I can’t help but think Mark Teixeira was rushed back from his injury. He initially burst out of the gate with several home runs before starting to look like toast. Cashman is saying there’s only a 30 percent chance Mark Teixeira will need surgery, but raise your hand if you believe Tex won’t end up under the knife before the season is over.
So, where are the runs going to come from now that the (mostly) B team is back on the field? Robinson Cano really does need to step up and put the team on his back. Right now, he’s mired in a bit of a slump, having gone just 23/96 in the last 30 days. Robbie has suffered through offensive woes like this in the past, so hopefully he’ll step it up soon. Brett Gardner has been heating up of late, but he can’t do it alone.
One intriguing possibility for the Yankees to get more power is using Phil Hughes as trade bait for a bat. It does make sense. The Yankees most likely won’t re-sign Hughes and they’ve got Michael Pineda waiting in the wings. Hughes is a fly-ball pitcher and would do well in one of those spacious ballparks out west. Plus, he’s a West Coast kid, having grown up in Southern California. A return on investment like a Hunter Pence would be nice.
Another option is right in the Yankees own backyard: call up Zoilo Almonte. The switch-hitting outfielder is hitting .425 in his last 10 games. Overall he has a .297 average and .369 OBP for triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I thought the Yankees should have called up Almonte long ago. He certainly would have been a better option than Vernon Wells, who has looked overmatched at the plate for the better part of two months now. Wells seems like he’s already on an 0-2 count every time he steps into the batters’ box. He has a .273 OBP and a slugging percentage of .383. Almonte certainly can’t do any worse — it’s time for the Yankees to stop plugging holes with reclamation projects and start seeing what some of their kids can do.
Ronnie Mustelier should also be given a chance at third base now that Youkilis is probably done for the season and David Adams has cooled off considerably. Mustelier is nursing a groin injury at the moment, but is hitting .280 with an OBP of .319 OBP and a slugging percentage of .408 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Cuban defector just needs an opportunity to show what he’s capable of in the big leagues once he’s healthy.
The Yankees have stayed in the hunt in the American League East thanks to their strong pitching, both by the starters and the bullpen. However, they need to give their offense a shot in the arm and their pitchers more breathing room. The Yankees need to reclaim their Bomber status to ensure their season doesn’t go completely south.