Joe Girardi, New York Yankees Have Bigger Problems Than Wild Card

Ryan BurnsAnalyst IAugust 28, 2008

Somehow this just doesn't seem right. 

All signs pointed toward a successful season for the Bronx Bombers back in April, especially considering the re-signing of Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, both coming off career years. There was a new, young manager in Joe Girardi, who was a proven winner with the Marlins.

There was cause for excitement when the Yankees announced they would not part ways with prospects Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, even if it meant losing out on Johan Santana. This was viewed by many as a break from the normal order of business in the Yankees front office, trusting prospects to perform rather than throwing money at the best guy available.

Lastly, this is the final season at Yankee Stadium. You would think this would energize the players into playing some inspired baseball. Clearly, this is not the case.

As much as I want to hold out hope for the 2008 Yankees, reality seems to be slapping Yankee Universe in the face in the form of a third-place division finish. The Yankees have not missed the playoffs since the strike-shortened 1994 season, but 2008 seems to be the season that we will have to forget. 

What went wrong?

First of all, the American League East became more than a two-team division, as the Tampa Bay Rays emerged as a serious contender, shocking baseball analysts by leading the division into August (and, soon enough, September). 

The injury bug bit the Yankees once again, in what is now a disturbing trend for the Bombers. Virtually every Yankee has made at least one appearance on the DL for various ailments. More injuries mean new players coming in and filling spots, altering team chemistry, sometimes for the worse.

Although Hideki Matsui and Posada both missed a lot of time, the biggest injuries were to the pitching staff.

Chien-Ming Wang injured his foot running the bases in an interleague game, and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. Phenom Joba Chamberlain has missed time on two occasions, although he has pitched well when healthy. Phil Hughes struggled early on, and it became public that he had an oblique strain, making it hard to hit spots. 

Each of these players were supposed to be huge contributors to the Yankees' success this season, but, unfortunately, we will have to wait till next season to see all three healthy.

The Yankees are playing like a beaten team—a team that is uninspired, the wind having been poached from its sails.

After last night's 11-3 drubbing at the hands of the rival Boston Red Sox, the Yankees postseason hopes are hanging on by a thread. This means that Joe Girardi and the Yankees front office had best be taking a long, hard look at their roster in hopes of making a change. 

Seven games back in the wild-card race is not an insurmountable lead, but the Yankees now need to play their best baseball of the season and get help from other teams.

If that doesn't happen?

Well, let's just say I'll be writing an angrier article a few weeks from now. Until then, I'll be rooting for Carl Pavano (*shudder*).