Monday, April 16, 2007

Time to Panic?

Consider the following:

-The Yankees have begun the season 5-6, and have won only one of their first four series.
-They lost a momentum-crushing game Sunday at Oakland in indescribably painful, surreal fashion.
-3/5 of the starting rotation is on the disabled list. Of the remaining two starters, one is an elbow injury waiting to happen and the other Kei Igawa.
-2/3 of the starting outfield have been down with injuries, and Melky Cabrera looks like the 2005 version of himself, not Melky 2.0 from 2006.
-Derek Jeter has committed six errors in 11 games, causing statheads everywhere to wet themselves with joy.
-Joe Torre is still the manager.
-There is still no backup catcher, and if the strained-muscle plague catches up with Jorge Posada, disaster will ensue.

The injuries are not a surprise in and of themselves, although their sheer volume has to be unexpected. This is the second straight season that the Yankees have been beset with injuries to one key part of the team (outfield last year, starting pitching this year). While Sheffield and Matsui's injuries last year were freak incidents, this year's crop of muscle strains and pulls seems more systemic, perhaps due to the new conditioning coach and program the team must follow.

Here comes the obligatory "it's too early to panic" speech: no, wait, fuck that, that's not how I roll. This team is in trouble early, with Cleveland and the Red Sox coming up this week, and someone named Chase Wright pitching two of those games. The Yankees could find themselves in a fairly deep hole by the time the pitching gets healthy, if that ever happens. And let's not forget that the pitching's not all that great even when carrying a clean bill of health.

Of course, everything could change if Phil Hughes and Roger Clemens are the 1-2 combo in early June. Let's just hope that by then the Yankees aren't looking at a double-digit deficit in the division.