Yankee DullPen Still an Issue
Never dreamed I’d say this, but boy do I miss George Steinbrenner. The Yankees have gone 0-6 in the 2009 version of the most coveted rivalry in sports, and the front office is quieter than a starving heavyweight in a buffet line. Admit it—the silence is killing you too. Remember in years past the Yankees would be five games up in the AL East, lose a game by a run and Steinbrenner would snatch a reporter’s microphone and condemn half the roster? Back then it was something considered unnecessary and, albeit, a needless distraction in itself. Due to his “outbursts” during his reign as owner, the Yanks have gone through more managers than IHOP, but have also won World Series Championships.
Nowadays, I hesitate to call Mr. Steinbrenner’s antics “outbursts” as much as I refer to them as ‘rally cries’. They reminded players and staff that everyday, on and off the field, they were representatives of one of the classiest and most successful organizations on the planet. Yeah, the guy had very few admirers in the organization, but you know what? Things were accomplished through his tough love approach, which is what the Yankees need now more than ever—starting with the bullpen.
The last two losses to the Boston Red Sox featured less-than-mediocre performances by the Yankee bullpen. Eyeballing a three-run deficit in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game hosting the Red Sox, the bullpen was needed to get the Yankees to the bottom of the inning and their star-studded lineup to close the gap. Rookie Mark Melancon took the mound and walked the bases loaded and gave up a run before David Robertson came in and cleaned up the mess by getting the last two outs. The damage had already been done, and starter Joba Chamberlain’s valiant effort early in the game was trampled.
Gone are the years when the Yankees would only need to be within striking distance (2 or 3 runs) heading into the eighth inning to have a good chance at winning. The peace of mind that the bullpen will do its job and stop the bleeding long enough for the Yankee bats to put the game away is virtually non-existent these days. With the game tied Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays in the top of the ninth inning, Mariano Rivera came on to shut down the Rays’ lineup and give the Yanks a shot to win in the bottom of the ninth. Two solo shots in a row by the Rays left Rivera and the rest of the club looking like they had just seen an alien defecate in center field. Fans were shocked, and Yankee Stadium was the quietest it has ever been as its team was swept in its confines by the second team in a row. What the boys need is a morale boost, hopefully from the team executives.
As Jorge Posada remains on the DL, the Yanks will need to fill his defensive role as well as his offensive presence. They hit the road today as they travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles. The Bombers are also excited to have their Juicer returned to them at third base after weeks of hopefully-legal rehab. I’m thrilled.
By Tim Gaffney
> View all of the MLB baseball news articles from ProBaseball-fans.com.