Monday, June 04, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

At some point Joe Torre, and the rest of the Yankee brass, have to think that perhaps the baseball gods have it in for them this year. String together two wins, show some fight and an inkling of crawling out of the doldrums, then boom…disastrous seventh inning marred by two Jeter errors to blow the game at Fenway, lose the starting first-baseman for six weeks, and cancel Roger Clemens return. All within a few hours, Friday night’s optimism was squashed. Did I mention the report in today’s Daily News that Philip Hughes may miss the entire season.

…With Doug Mientkiewicz shelved for two months, first base is now a major question. Johnny Damon is not the answer. We all saw the Gary Sheffield experiment erupt last season, and Damon, lacking the previous infield experience Sheffield bad, will be worse. Yankee fans will realize how good Mientkiewicz is defensively at first when they see the gaping hole it becomes. Without Giambi to fill the space, its either minor leagues, Josh Phelps, or the guy who cannot run or throw in centerfield anymore.

…Whatever they choose, Cashman should not overreact with a lopsided trade. Texeira is reportedly on the market. If the price is right, I consider it, but remember, there is a reason the Rangers want to unload this burden.

…The Clemens injury is a sign of things to come. I keep saying it, he is 44 going on 45, and has struggled to complete half seasons in recent years, succumbing to leg injuries each year. Rocket is not a lightweight, and the legs are important. Beware, this will fester the entire season.

…And, if Joel Sherman in the NY Post is correct, the Yankees should figure out how to extricate themselves of this mammoth contract. Sherman is a highly respected journalist, but I still do not know how this clause would make it into writing on a Clemens contract. It was a mistake from the time he poked his outside the owners box and Suzyn Waldman shrieked for ten minutes, after a setback it looks like more of a mistake. If they can get out, do it.

…Mike Mussina is finished. I did not advocate the two-year contract for Moose last winter, given his steep decline the past few years, and the fact he has never met the lofty expectations he brought with him. Maybe his surprising first half last season tricked enough front office members, but Mussina showed no evidence he could remain an effective pitcher for two years. His Saturday start in Boston reinforced what I witnessed during his last start against the Sox two weeks ago, Moose is throwing meatballs and asking to get walloped. Sure, he will have some games with impeccable location and a good breaking ball, but Mussina will never beat a good hitting team again.


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