Ironic that Eric Chavez credited the loss of Alex Rodriguez for the way the Yankees have been slumping when Chavez himself has done such a good job of playing in A-Rod's stead. Sayeth Chavez after last night's loss:
"I think the injury bug is starting to catch up to us where I think we got away with it early," Chavez said. "This all seems to be when we lost Alex. He's just a huge part of our lineup, and I think we're really showing how important he is to this team."
With last night's 2-for-4/home run game, Eric Chavez raised his season's rates to .280/.338/.511. Alex Rodriguez disappeared after the July 24 game against the Mariners. It took a few days for Chavez to respond to more regular play, but in the 11 games since he's gone 10-for-30 with three home runs. Jayson Nix has also played shockingly well since A-Rod has been gone, going 5-for-16 with a home run. In all, Yankees third basemen have gone 14-for-39 (.359) with three doubles and four home runs After-Rod. Rodriguez himself was hitting .251/.343/.429 when playing third. Designated hitters have also done reasonably well in that time, going 13-for-45 (.289) with five doubles and a single home run. If the Yankees have had an offensive shortfall in recent days, it's not as a result of Rodriguez's absence.
The funny thing, though, is that they don't have an offensive shortfall. Mark Teixeira, Ichiro Suzuki, and Nick Swisher all had good games on Tuesday, but if you want to look for culprits for any disappointing hitting in the post-Rod period, take those three and add in a healthy mix of Curtis Granderson, 9-for-55 (.164, albeit with two home runs). Yet, though the Yankees haven't been winning, the offense has gone from 4.8 runs a game with A-Rod to 5.3 a game without him. The pitching has been a greater problem. Pitchers had allowed an even four runs a game through July 24; since, they have added a half-run, jumping up to 4.5.
Yet, a greater problem might simply be luck. Since losing A-Rod, the Yankees have played 12 games. Four of them have been one-run affairs. They have lost all four. Had they merely split those games, instead of going 5-7, they would have been 7-5. A 7-5 pace is all a team has to maintain to win 95 games. If there is anything to second-guess herein, it is not the effect of A-Rod's absence, but Brian Cashman's decision to be conservative at the trading deadline and not make a move for a player with more dynamic possibilities than Ichiro's.