Where have the real New York Yankees gone? The answer, as their lead in the American League East shrinks and they face a weekend series against the second-place Baltimore Orioles, is mostly to the disabled list.
SB Nation New York columnist Jeff Freier opined earlier this week that this version of the Yankees is not the same old Bronx Bombers. He's right, but not because they intended to change. He right because they have gotten old, and old bones and muscles just don't stay as healthy as young ones do.
No, the Yankees aren't what they used to be. Or even what they expected to be. Or even what they were a month ago.
- Rafael Soriano is closing. Mariano Rivera is rehabbing a shredded knee.
- David Phelps and Freddy Garcia are starting games. Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda are not.
- Ichiro Suzuki is playing left field -- and some right field. Brett Gardner is not.
- Eric Chavez and Jayson Nix are playing third base. Alex Rodriguez is not.
- Mark Teixeira is not playing. Steve Pearce is.
- CC Sabathia is still pitching. Twice this season, though, he has visited the disabled list.
During the last two Yankee games, Pearce -- a player who was in his first Yankee game and has 12 homers in parts of six big-league seasons -- and Andruw Jones and his .207 batting average, were the cleanup hitters.
These are not the real Yankees taking the field right now. Then again, maybe they are the real Yankees. A collection of high-priced, aging players with better pasts than futures who are still very good when they can get on the field, but who just can't always do that anymore.
Does this rag-tag collection of Yankee imposters have enough gas in the tank to reach the finish line ahead of their competition? They are sputtering right now, and beginning Friday against Baltimore they face a stern test over the final 32 games, 26 of which will come against AL East teams?
Cross your fingers and buckle your seat belts, Yankees fans. The final month of the season could be a bumpy ride.