OK, so after Monday's little tirade you guys want to see my ideas for 'fixing' our New York Yankees. And I see that many of you have been busy bees, posting lots of your own ideas over in the 'Fanposts' section.
That's cool. Love the participation, love the ideas, love the debate. That's why the 'Fanposts' are great. Just try to keep it friendly, and keep it realistic. Meaning, keep try to keep it to things you believe have a realistic chance of happening. And no, the White Sox trading Bobby Jenks for Chien-Ming Wang is not close to realistic. Nor is Ramiro Pena starting at second base instead of Robinson Cano.
Before I start with my thoughts, let me say I do not believe the Yankees are broken.They are a very good team that has played very badly for the past two weeks. They don't really need 'fixing.' They could use a tuneup, and maybe some re-arranging of the furniture.
Anyway, on to my thoughts about what can or should be done to give the Yankees their best shot at a 27th World Series title. That, of course, is the prize we are after.
- Get your best roster in uniform. That means waving goodbye to Brett Tomko and Angel Berroa. It means getting Mark Melancon into the Yankee bullpen and giving him a real chance to show whether or not he can help. We know Tomko can't. Getting rid of Berroa would make space for Xavier Nady if/when he is ready to return, or for Shelley Duncan. Either of those guys would upgrade the bench and the offense. Ramiro Pena is better than Berroa, and right now should be the guy playing when A-Rod isn't.
- Get serious about making a deal for Mark DeRosa. DeRosa (.277, 13 home runs, 50 RBI) is a huge upgrade over anything the Yankees have on the bench. Not to mention he might be a better every day right fielder than Swisher. He can play third, second, first and both corner outfield spots. Guaranteed that the Yankees could find a lot of at-bats for him, no matter where he played.
- Play Brett Gardner every day, at least for now. Center field is going to back-and-forth between Gardner and Melky Cabrera all season, and right now Gardner is clearly the better option. Melky was hot for a while, but he has hit .190 in June. Gardner hit .327 in May and is hitting .348 this month with a .464 OBP. The Yankees need some energy on offense, and the speedy Gardner needs to be given another every day chance to provide it.
- Settle the bullpen. Get Melancon to New York. Give Phil Hughes and David Robertson important, late innings, not just mop-up ones. Let Alfredo Aceves handle the long stuff, which is what he is best at. Maybe, if you give these young guys the opportunity, you'll find you don't need Huston Street or another veteran reliever, after all.
What I don't want to see
Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman getting fired. As of today, the Yankees are a playoff team. Firing the GM in the middle of the season isn't going to help anything. As for Girardi ... well, I have my issues with him, but now isn't the time to fire him. Clearly, Girardi knows he is managing for his job. He knows he has to win to be back in 2010, and I think it is affecting his managing. How else can you explain his reckless handling of A-Rod, his erratic handling of the bullpen and some odd in-game decisions in the late innings? He is feeling the heat. No doubt Girardi goes after the season if the Yanks don't make the playoffs. Right now, stay the course unless the wheels come completely off. If this current tailspin continues for a couple more weeks maybe we need to re-consider Girardi, but not right now. As for Cashman, I feel pretty much the same way. The thing he has done best in all his years as Yankee GM is do enough to keep his job. But, the Yankees of the past two years, on the field and on the bench, are clearly Cashman's team. If they fail to make the playoffs again it is time for him to face the music. But, not just yet.
- Joba in the bullpen. He hasn't been great, but you can make a case he is the Yanks' second-best starting pitcher. Hard to remove that from a rotation that has been shaky at times. After all, you have to have starters who pitch well before you worry about the late innings.
- Crazy changes. Like Pena for Cano. Like releasing Hideki Matsui. Like getting rid of Wang.
Some Final Thoughts
Yes, things have been ugly for the past two weeks. I am not happy about it, and I am not going to excuse it. The Yankees left several winnable games on the table, and that needs to stop. Soon.
We all have to realize that no players are perfect. Mariano Rivera has blown saves every season of his career. Derek Jeter has hit into double plays every season. Players make errors. They occasionally do bone-headed things. Hitters will fail more often than they succeed, and pitchers will never throw every pitch exactly where they want to. It's baseball. It's a wild, unpredictable rollercoaster ride filled with lots of good times, and lots of bad ones, too.
In the end, what it comes down to for the Yankees is that the highly-paid key players on this team simply have to do a better job than they have done recently. If they can't the Yankees don't win. No matter who the manager or general manager is, and no matter what trades they make.
CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett need to win games, Chamberlain needs to get deeper into his starts and Wang needs to get better. Rivera needs to close games. A-Rod needs to hit, especially when it counts. Jeter, too.
It's still early, but it's not that early. In the end, this season will come down to whether or the guys on this making the big money because of what they have done in the past, can still get the job done.