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Monday, June 3, 2013

BE PATIENT YANKEE FANS... BELIEVE

With the conclusion of the first two months of the season the New York Yankees find themselves within striking distance of first place in the AL East division.  That spot is currently occupied by their hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

The fact that the club has stayed so close to the top is an accomplishment in itself.  By now everyone has heard about the “patchwork” lineup made up of aging veterans and “green behind the ears” call-ups.  Still, it is amazing that this team everyone had predicted would be lying dead in the basement is actually very much alive.

Without a single everyday player at the top of any category, and only Hall of Fame reliever Mariano Rivera leading the league in a pitching category (saves, with 19), somehow the “Bombers” have kept it all together.

The heart of the order has been made up of the likes of Lyle Overbay who last played an entire season in 2010, and whose batting average topped out at .264 on May 20th

Vernon Wells began the season as arguably the team’s MVP.   As late as May 15th he was hitting .301 and is still second on the team in home runs and fourth in RBI.

From May 18th through May 21st Travis Hafner had two RBI in three consecutive games and his batting average reached .275.

He’s had one RBI since.

Wells has played in 52 games.  Overbay has seen action in 51, and Travis Hafner has been the DH in 43.
None of them were expected to see playing time as often as they have.  When they were signed, only Hafner could have hoped to be something of an everyday player – depending upon how many right handed pitchers our opponents trotted to the mound.

Jayson Nix has played in 47 of the Yankees 65 games (as of this writing).  If you predicted that before the season began, you have the wrong day job and need to get yourself to an OTB.

When 2013 opened, Nix was merely a footnote.  He was supposed to be a guy that could spell our veteran stars (and their backups) at second, short and third.  He might even have hoped to see some time in the outfield. 

With Derek Jeter not yet ready and Eduardo Nunez becoming suddenly very fragile, Nix was thrust into an everyday role.

To his credit, the current Yankees shortstop has brought his average up from a low of .194 on April 22nd to .248.  His play has been solid, gritty, and way more than the team could have ever hoped for.

David Adams was playing in Scranton/Wilkes Barre when the need for a third baseman arose in the Bronx. 

Through his first eight games the 26 year-old was hitting .323 and playing a rock-solid hot corner.  Unfortunately that would be his ceiling at the plate and his average now sits at .259.

It is nearly time for these players to go back to the roles they were intended to play when the team opened camp in February.

Already Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira are back, relegating Overbay and Adams to backup roles in the field and taking some time away from Hafner at the DH spot.

With the “honeymoon” apparently over for the replacements that so admirably filled in through May, the timing for the regulars return is perfect.

Wells has just six hits in his past 55 at-bats (.109) and hasn’t had a multi-hit game since May 13th.  Overbay’s average has dropped to .247 and Hafner is 3 for his last 24 (.125). Perhaps the unintended everyday-player roles have finally taken their toll. 

Wells is going to have to fight his way through whatever funk he is in.  Curtis Granderson is still at least a month away from returning. 

Angel fans will be happy to wish you good luck with that, but the Angels don’t have a Kevin Long to help them out.  The way Wells began the season wasn’t a fluke and given his work ethic, Yankees faithful shouldn’t give up on the veteran outfielder just yet. 

It will take time for the team to get its rhythm back as their stars return.  Manager Joe Girardi has had to shuffle his lineup around on a daily basis in an attempt to find the right formula for success, and so far has done a pretty darn good job.  It will take him some time to find the right spots for the regulars as he gets used to writing their names down every day, but it will happen. 

Don’t lose faith Yankees fans. 

Our team may be in a little slump right now, but our manager and the back-ups have put us in a spot where we can weather the storm.  Help is right around the corner and we just need to be patient.


   
--Steve Skinner, BYB Guest Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

 

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