As a New York Yankees fan, my biggest fears for this season are coming true—and then some.
Before the season, I was worried about the starting pitching and the age of some of the players. However, I didn't realize just how worried I should have been.
During the Derek Jeter contract talks, I figured he'd never be the hitter he once was and would instead improve slightly over his 2010 numbers. At this point, I believe all Yankees fans would gladly take even his 2010 numbers over what he's done so far in 2011.
When the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, I figured the starting rotation would be CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and whatever three pitchers they could find to round out the rotation. Who would have thought that Bartolo Colon of all people would be the most consistent starter the Yankees would have, that Phil Hughes' arm would be dead and that CC would have a WHIP over 1.30.
I actually liked the Rafael Soriano deal (though had issues with the player option years of his contract). I figured the Yankees would be unbeatable if they had the lead going into the eighth inning—never expected that Soriano would be this bad.
I expected Jorge Posada to actually improve offensively because being a permanent DH allows him to play more, but with less wear and tear on his body. I don't think anyone saw him being the worst hitter in the Majors.
I expected more improvement by Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. Gardner started slow but is hot now and Swisher is only good for striking out with men on base it seems.
Who would have thought that we'd be talking about Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada needing to retire? I figured they both had a couple more years left in them. Now I'll be happy if Posada turns it around and is able to finish this season and that Jeter will still be a Yankee next season.
There have been a couple bright spots though.
Curtis Granderson is showcasing amazing power, Russel Martin is playing like he did five years ago and Mariano Rivera is once again proving why he's the best reliever in baseball history.
Yes, the season is barely into its second month, but the Yankees are playing like a third place team. Early in the season they had a winning record, but they were getting by on home runs. Now, the home runs have slowed and their record shows the effect. If you count solely on HRs to score runs, you cannot win over the long haul.
If the last couple of weeks isn't more than just a slump, expect wholesale changes to come. Posada may just be released and replaced by Jesus Montero. Jeter might get dropped to the bottom of the lineup. Girardi may not last till the trading deadline. Prospects like Betances and Banuelos might get promoted quicker than the Yankees want.
My biggest fear is that the Yankees trade their prospects like Montero, Betances and Banuelos for a quick-fix instead of getting the most out them (whether in a trade or actually on the roster at the MLB level).
I've been a Yankees fan since I was born in the mid-1970s and have seen the high and lows. The 2011 season so far reminds me of the early 1990s when the Yankees were just bad in all aspects of baseball. Those Yankees fans who came to the team in the mid/late-1990s have never gone through something like this; those fans expect and demand the Yankees to be in first place in the American League East and always make the playoffs. We older fans know better.
Yes, the Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008, but that team didn't look bad. They had issues but there was hope they would improve. I must say, that right now, the hope is fading quick for this team. There's a big difference between a team not playing well and a team that looks old and lost—and this team looks old and lost.
I would not be surprised to see most of the Yankees turn it around and secure (at least) a Wild Card berth. However, unless something drastic happens, it's going to be tough.
The Yankees homer in me says "they'll be fine, just give them time." The realist in me says "this team is old, they have more question marks than initially thought and it's going to be a long summer." Here's hoping the realist is wrong and the homer is correct.