Yankees Cannot Buy a Hit as Summer Approaches and Schedule Gets Tougher
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The 2013 Yankees have totaled six more runs in one fewer game than the Houston Astros. In case you're wondering, the Houston Astros are the worst team in the American League–-by a long shot. New York's brilliant pitching has propped them up all season long but they can only do so much.
In fact, they can allow two earned runs over 17 innings to one of the top teams in baseball yet find no relief from a team full of sluggers and former all stars who inexplicably cannot buy a hit these days.
On Thursday, in the series finale in Oakland, Vernon Wells, Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis combined to go 0-28 over 18 innings. You read that correctly. Oh, yeah, these are the Yankees' No. 4-7 hitters these days.
New York had plenty of chances to take the lead and win the game but their ineptitude showed time and time again.
Maybe luck has finally run out for Vernon Wells. After a superb month of April, Wells has been absolutely atrocious. So bad that, were it not for injuries, he wouldn't even be playing most of the time.
Many predicted the demise of the Yankees before the season. It became commonplace to prognosticate that the Bombers would finish dead last in the highly competitive American League East. Many, in the national media, foaming at the mouth, full of schadenfreude, gleeful that their dream of Yankee failure would finally come true after all these years.
Then the Yankees came charging out of the gates thanks to a 16-10 month of April, and stayed atop the AL East for a sizable amount of the month of May. Like Dr. Dre, every time they've been close to defeat, they've risen to their feet, brushing off a rough 1-7 stretch with a 6-1 tear immediately after.
Now, the Yankees have lost three in a row and, despite poor outings from CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, most of the failure can be pinned largely on the lack of hitting, especially from Youkilis, Hafner, Wells and Teixeira.
Teixeira has had a few big homers since his return from the disabled list on May 31st but he has largely been invisible at the plate. Hafner has slowed down while Youkilis has been downright terrible, likely still battling a lower-back injury.
If you can't hit, you can't win. One of the oldest adages in baseball. That is the current state of the Yankees. But what is the future state? Can Wells, Hafner and Youkilis, players who have come to be relied upon for so much this season, get re-energized and start hitting again?
The Yankees would surely love more production from Ichiro, as well as from the shortstop position, but it's hard to expect that Jayson Nix or Reid Brignac will deliver much of anything at the plate.
If general manager Brian Cashman believes that the Yankees pitching can carry this team to the playoffs, with a little more help from the lineup, then it's rapidly approaching the time to make a trade. It would appear the Yankees have a plethora of young arms to deal.
Should the Yankees make a trade for a very good hitter, even if it means trading away some good pitching arms and/or prospects?
Yet there have been few possible targets mentioned and the Yankees would likely only have interest in players that have expiring contracts. This would particularly hold true if they're still serious about getting under the $189 million payroll mark.
A player the Yankees may want to consider is Chase Utley, whose contract expires after the season. He's still owed several million dollars but that wouldn't bother the Yankees. His left-handed power bat is ideal for Yankee Stadium.
While he's almost exclusively played second base, he could serve as a DH or potentially be asked to play third base.
Another intriguing possibility could be Brian McCann, though less likely as the Braves would presumably not want to deal one of their homegrown centerpieces in the midst of a pennant race. But the Yankees definitely have a need at catcher and McCann is on track to deliver a season pretty well in line with his career averages.
Over the years sluggers like David Justice, Chili Davis and others have come to New York and provided a lift to the Yankee lineup. It's a risk the Yankees have to take this time around. Boston is good, clearly a better overall team than the Yankees at this point, but far from a lock to win the division.
Baltimore and Tampa Bay are solid teams but not better than the Yankees. All about equal. The fact is, the Yankees have the best pitching staff in the AL East by a fairly good margin. In fact, one of the best in the league.
They just need some improvement in the batting order. Granderson should return in a few weeks and maybe Jeter could be back for the final two months of the season.
But a sense of urgency is growing in the Bronx with each passing one or two run output from this weak lineup.
This could still be a special season, but the bats need to get going. If they don't, then it's time to look to the trade market.
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