Monday, April 10, 2006

Yanks 10, Angels 1

If the Yankees make a pattern out of their first week, I’ll be committed by mid-May. After raising optimism levels to an all-time high with Monday’s 15-2 drubbing of the Athletics, our beloved Bombers dropped four straight games, all winnable. No team wins ‘em all, but 0-4 in consecutive serviceable games has me searching for sharp objects with which to perform hari kari. And while yesterday’s victory provided a sigh of relief, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for the immediate future.

You can’t just bludgeon your opponents to death. It will work some of the time, but as the Yankees have proven over the past few years, it’s no formula for long-term success. Without solid pitching and defense, and a bit of situational hitting, those big bats will go to waste. And considering we’ve seen nothing but inconsistency thus far in those three classifications, I’m not so quick to sing the team’s praises following their series-salvaging win in Anaheim.

[MORE] Furthering my frustration with the Yanks, they’ve teed off on two vulnerable pitchers in their pair of victories. Not only do the Yanks historically fare well against Bartolo Colon, but he was showing signs of a lingering injury, leading to eight runs allowed and his third inning hook. And Barry Zito is a notoriously slow starter, 7-11 with a 4.98 ERA in April from 2002 through 2005. So while the offense may have shown flashes, they’ve basically been bullies thus far.

Bully they’ll have to this week, as the always pathetic Kansas City Royals hang out in the Bronx for a day-game series beginning Tuesday. It’ll be Joe Mays, Jeremy Affeldt, and 25-year-old Denny Bautista against Chein-Ming Wang, Shawn Chacon, and Randy Johnson. When you look at pitching matchups like that, it’s easy to make a wise-ass comment and expect a sweep. But we know what these Yankees are capable of. They made Mark Hendrickson – he of the 5.90 ERA in 2005 – look like a Cy Young candidate. Surprisingly, the series finale has me worried the most. Randy has the capacity to collapse against terrible squads, and the Yanks seem susceptible to young arms they haven’t seen much.

Thankfully, Kansas City has looked all sorts of inept at the plate, which really comes as no surprise. They were quite active in free agency, but adding players like Mark Grundzielanek, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Reggie Sanders to a non-existent core (with my apologies to the talented David DeJesus) accomplished little in the Royal’s quest to transcend treachery. As a team, they’ve drawn nine walks on the season; Jim Thome has eight free passes.

The pitching is in worse shape than last year, pasting together a rotation that probably couldn’t survive on the AAA level. Is there any way that a team boasting Scott Elarton as their ace doesn’t lose 110 games? And there’s no help in sight, as the only hurler resembling a prospect – nutjob Zach Greinke – is out indefinitely as he deals with personal problems. And yes, the joke has been made a thousand times, but if I was a promising pitcher on a dead-end team like the Royals, I’d be dealing with personal problems as well.

The whole organization reeks of incompetence. They cry “small market, no money” year after year, and when they’re finally under enough pressure to actually spend the revenue sharing check they receive from George Steinbrenner, they go blow it on useless players. They centered their team around Mike freakin’ Sweeney, alloting him 23 percent of the team’s total payroll. For comparison, even A-Rod accounts for only 14 percent of the Yankees total payroll, and the egocentric Barry Bonds makes up 22 percent of the Giants dollars. Would you put Sweeney in the same category as A-Rod and Bonds?

What the Royals need is a complete change of face. David Glass may have found incredible success at Wal Mart, but his aptitude as a baseball owner is wanting. He and his GM Allard Baird have done little but butcher a franchise and turn it into a money machine rather than a baseball team. But let me tell you something, folks; a baseball in itself does not make money. Put up enough losing seasons, and you lose the fans interest. It’s about that time that Glass will sell his position, hopefully to a suitor dedicated to actually improving the team.

Signs of additional pessimism: I’ve ranted for 350 words about the Royals ineptitude, yet I still don’t see the Yanks sweeping them. But, since I’ve been getting myself all worried over what will amount to nothing, I’ll take a few seconds to make a few optimistic bullet points.

  • Mussina has looked sharp in his two starts. If only the guys could find consistency. Seriously, if he throws 85 percent of his starts like his previous two, the Yanks will have one less question mark in their pitching staff.

  • Randy looks like Randy. Maybe he hasn’t dominated yet, but all signs point to a few of those games in the near future.

  • It could all just be luck: the Yanks could have won any of their four losses, but couldn’t come up with a timely hit. While this is reminiscent of last year, a lot of situational hitting is pure luck. A few lucky breaks could be in the offing.

  • They can still hit the piss out of the ball.