Most of the buzz around the New York Yankees right now centers around Joba Chamberlain, and the damaged elbow that will cost him the rest of the 2011 season and likely require Tommy John surgery. Are the 'Joba Rules' to blame? Did the Yankees hurt Chamberlain by bouncing him from relieving to starting and back to relieving? Did manager Joe Girardi use him improperly? How will the Yankees replace one of the key cogs in their 'Bridge To Mo?'
You know, these are all legitimate questions. Having just finished an ugly series in which they were swept by the Boston Red Sox and fell two games back in the American League East, and with the Central Division-leading Cleveland Indians arriving at Yankee Stadium Friday night to begin a four-game series, what went wrong with Joba is hardly the only thing the Yankees have to worry about right now.
Bummers Bombers are a mess right now. The problems begin with the bullpen, but the Boston series revealed flaws that -- if they were not obvious already -- should be now.
Let's take a look at this currently wheezing patient, and see if we can find prescriptions to bring it back to health.
The broken bullpen. Maybe the better word for it is 'torn.' There is Joba's torn elbow ligament. There is Pedro Feliciano's torn shoulder capsule. There is Rafael Soriano, the high-priced free-agent reliever on the shelf with a messed-up elbow and, probably, some torn-up self confidence. Mariano Rivera is still there, of course, and David Robertson should be fine. There is no one else out there, though, that Girardi can feel really good about handing the ball to. Which means maybe Robertson will be the next guy with a torn-up shoulder.
GM Brian Cashman says the Yankees will "look from within first," and Lohud has a good breakdown of the likely internal candidates, including a few trade possibilities. No one on that list gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
The Yankees may trade for a relief pitcher at some point, but Buster Olney points out that they won't give up any top prospects to do it. That, incidentally, is the right idea.
There are, of course, relievers the Yankees have let go who are scattered all around the big leagues and are doing a good job. Alfredo Aceves pitched 3.2 scoreless innings against New York Wednesday. Ex-prospect Mark Melancon is closing for Houston. There are several others.
The starting rotation. Face it, the Yankee rotation is pretty much CC Sabathia and ... well, CC Sabathia. Bionic Bartolo Colon has pitched well, but can we count on that continuing. Freddy Garcia is a veteran soft-tosser and Boston exposed him this week. Ivan Nova is an inconsistent kid trying to figure it out. A.J. Burnett is still a basket case who can't be relied on in big spots. Phil Hughes? Who knows what he is? We know what he isn't, though. He isn't the Franchise, the guy the Yankees can build a rotation around for a decade.
Cashman has admitted that there really isn't a top-flight starter who will be on the market this summer. The young pitchers the Yankees have coming along -- notably Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances -- are still at least a year away. So, it's really cross your fingers and hope for a good second half from Hughes.
The offense. Jorge Posada is barely hanging on to his career, and mostly sentimentality is keeping him in pinstripes. Nick Swisher is having an awful year. Robinson Cano is not having a year to match 2010. Curtis Granderson is slowing after a great start. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are good, but not what they used to be.
A trade for someone like Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets is making more and more sense. So is the idea of getting Posada off the roster and getting top prospect Jesus Montero at-bats as a designated hitter.
Hard to believe the Yankees were ranked No. 1 in MLB.com's most recent power rankings. Right now this looks like a team that will have its hands full simply trying to patch together a pitching staff capable of getting it to the playoffs.
4 game series vs Indians @ Yankee Stadium
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|Sun 06/12||1:05 PM EDT|
|Mon 06/13||7:05 PM EDT|