The unfathomable seems to have happened. A Steinbrenner has admitted defeat. Two days ago, Hank Steinbrenner commented that injuries have cost the 2008 Yankees and it may be time to look forward to the 2009 Season. Wow. I didn’t think I’d ever hear a Steinbrenner utter those words and yet, they make sense. The team has been ridden with injuries and poor performance by young pitchers. Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Chien Ming Wang have all suffered serious injuries this year and are not expected back for the rest of the season. Combine that with Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy’s shockingly bad performances this year and you have a team ready to break. The Yanks have held around as Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte have had strong seasons thus far, but both are old pitchers and they will almost definitely not be able to keep pitching well.
Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter have both have had sub-par season and Robinson Cano has not lived up to expectations. Alex Rodriguez has had an excellent year and recently acquired Xavier Nady has played out-of-this-world, but it isn’t going to be enough. Hitting wins games, pitching wins championships. The Yankees have excellent hitting, but their starting pitching isn’t going to hold up. It has barely held up so far. The Yankees are nine games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and six games behind the Boston Red Sox for the Wild Card. The Twins also lie between the Yankees and the Sox in the Wild Card. The Red Sox and Rays both look strong, even though they have both suffered their own injuries in recent days. For the Rays, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford were placed on the DL. a big setback to an already weak lineup. The Red Sox meanwhile lost Tim Wakefield and Mike Lowell to injuries.
For the Yankees to comeback and make the playoffs, they would have to completely turn around their season. They’d have to play nearly .700 baseball the rest of the season and after finishing their last road trip 3-7, the Yankees may have trouble playing .500 baseball. The Yankees have even bigger problems when they look towards 2009 and beyond. Mariano Rivera, though he has had a terrific 2008 season, isn’t going to be around forever. Jeter, Damon, Abreu, Giambi, and Posada are all past their prime. Cano and Melky Cabrera aren’t the answer for the offense. Mussina, Pettitte, and Wang are old as well. Hughes and Kennedy don’t seem to be ready for the big-time. The only positive point is Joba Chamberlain, who is on the DL himself. The team is old and needing to be restructured. When Hank Steinbrenner said that it may be time to look to the 2009 season for the Yankees, he may even be lying then. The Yankees need to get younger, deeper, and strengthen their starting pitching. If they can’t fill those holes in the offseason, Hank Steinbrenner may be saying “wait for next year” for a while.