The Yankees took another injury hit today when it was announced that Mark Teixeira will miss 8 to 10 weeks with a wrist injury. That timetable puts him back into the lineup right around the same time Curtis Granderson should return. It’s another blow to a team that does not have the depth to handle a lot of injuries.
Sure, the Yankees weren’t going to re-sign Swisher, who would have been a great player to have right now, but they didn’t have to get to this point. Eric Chavez, a 35-year old player who could play first and third, while really only hitting righty pitching, was allowed to sign with Arizona. Travis Hafner, a 35-year old player who can’t play at all in the field, while hitting only righty pitching, was brought in for roughly the same amount of money. Just in case you were wondering if the Yankees would try Hafner at first now, the answer is still no.
Now, let’s not forget that so far Derek Jeter is only projected to be ready for Opening Day. Phil Hughes has been out for more than 2 weeks and David Robertson felt “tightness” in his pitching shoulder. If I am the Yankees, I drive over to the Dominican WBC Team, kidnap Robinson Cano and put him in bubble wrap for the next four weeks. After that, there are not a lot of positive steps they can take to improve this situation. A panicked trade will most likely hurt more than help, so the Yankees should cross their fingers and hope that someone can step up and show them something. The opportunity is certainly there. But, I leave you to ponder the following Opening Day lineup:
Joel Sherman has always been a fairly level-headed voice for reason in the insanity that normally surrounds the Yankees. So, I am a bit surprised by his article this morning about the Yankees being tired of Joba’s “act”. I don’t know if the article was one that was planted by Yankee brass or if it is Sherman’s original thinking, but it strikes me a unfair and incorrect.
Let’s start with the ego part. Does Joba have a huge ego? Does he crave attention? Well most professional athletes have bigger than normal egos, it what helps them rise to the top of their game. I couldn’t begin to say if Joba’s ego is bigger than most or not. What I will say is that the two biggest egos in the history of the Yankees were George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson. Both of those guys have plaques hanging in Yankee Stadium (one of them has a ridiculously-sized one) so I don’t think egos are something the Yankees really worry about.
So what are they worried about? Probably the fact that they had three highly-ranked prospects and none of them developed into a frontline starter for the Yankees. They jettisoned Ian Kennedy in a trade. Phil Hughes is still trying to establish himself and then there is Joba. I have a feeling that if you administered truth serum to the Yankees they would admit that they blew it with Joba. They panicked when they turned to him in 2007 as a bullpen arm and then they started messing with him in 2009 to keep his innings down. Through his first 20 starts of 2009 he was 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA. Once they started messing with his innings he fell apart posting a 7.74 ERA over his last 11 starts. Those were the last 11 starts he would make as a Yankee. He moved to the pen full-time in 2010 to protect his arm, got hurt in 2011 and the rest is history.
In light of all of that can you blame him for saying he wants to be a starter? He was fairly good at it once and then there is the money aspect. Starters get big money in free agency, so do closers, but middle relievers do not. Joba knows that and he knows that the next contract he signs will be for a fraction of the amount he once thought he would get. I can’t blame him for being unhappy about that.
Word today out of Yankee camp is that Phil Hughes has a bulging disc in his upper back. The Yankees seem to think he will miss only two weeks. I’m not so sure.
Back discs are strange things. I’ve see a number of people go through bulging discs. One had surgery, one had shots, one had only physical rehabilitation. The one thing all three of them had in common was that it took a lot longer than two weeks for them to get back to normal. We can look into recent Yankee history and see that Alfredo Aceves never made it off the DL when he came down with a bulging disc in May of 2010. (BTW- I guess we know why the Yankees DFA’ed Aceves, he’s quite crazy.)
Now, none of this means that Hughes is destined to miss the season or anything so dire, but it exposes the Yankees’ lack of depth. If Ivan Nova returns to his early-2012 form and David Phelps pitches like he did last year, the Yankees could survive the loss of Hughes. But what happens if a second starter goes down? And even more concerning, what happens if a position player goes down?