MLB: Should Yankees Hit Panic Button?

John LewisSenior Writer IMay 10, 2008

While it's still way too early to determine where each major league baseball team will finish at the end of the season, Yankees fans are getting restless watching their team struggle.  So far isn't so good for the Bronx bombers as the move to youth is taking longer than expected.

That Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy for Johan Santana trade doesn't look so bad now.  You think the Yanks are kicking themselves for not pulling the trigger on one of the best pitchers in baseball? 

Santana would've given them instant stability in a division where the hated Red Sox are pulling away.  The powerful lefty is 3-2 for the Mets with a 2.91 era and 47 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. 

So why didn't the Yankees make the move?  Was Santana's age a factor?  He's 29 years old so there's still plenty of life in him.  Was it the money?  With a payroll over $200 million Santana would fit right in with his $16 million a year salary.

So what's in store for the Yanks once things settle down and Rodriguez and Posada come back from injury?  A-Rod will be back to his normal MVP caliber self but Posada may take a while to heal. 

His injury is to his throwing shoulder and these injuries tend to linger so don't expect the normally durable catcher to bounce right back.

For the pitching staff Kennedy is only 23 and not quite ready to pitch every day in the majors so it will take all year for him to adjust.  He was demoted to Triple-A but did however flirt with a no-hitter in his first start, so look for him to be called up soon. 

Hughes, on the other hand, started off last season in a slump with an era over six for the first five months and did rebound with an era of 2.73 in September and 1.59 in October.  He is in a similar slump so far but should snap out of it once the playoff race really heats up.

The one other major question, besides Kennedy and Hughes, is Mike Mussina.  He started the season 1-3 but has won his last four starts.  The change that has made him more successful is the fact that his off speed pitches have been clocked in the high 60's which in turn makes his 84 MPH fastball look like it's in the 90's.

Darrell Rasner was called up from the minors to pitch for Hughes and pitched effectively in his first start in a win against the Mariners.  The Yanks hope he can contribute to a staff that is fighting to stay a float. 

Kei Igawa has taken over in the fifth spot in the rotation after being called up from Triple-A and in his first start since last season got rocked for six earned runs in three innings.

Igawa has been a complete bust after the Yankees spent $46 million to bring him over from Japan.  Hitters beat him around last season with combined OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .907...not good for a supposed control pitcher.    

I expect a turnaround in the coming months as A-Rod comes back and provides the spark they so desperately need, although offense is definitely not the problem in NYC.  My prediction is that the Yanks miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Only time will tell.