Yankees cracking up
By Ken Fidlin, Toronto Sun
|Yankees Derek Jeter is slowing down and Alex Rodriguez had only four hits in his last 50 at bats before Friday's games. Just some of the cracks starting to appear in the Yanks' armour. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images/AFP)
The New York Yankees entered the weekend still in first place where they’ve been most of the season but more than a few cracks are starting to appear in the facade.
It all begins with Derek Jeter. Backed into a corner in an off-season contract dispute with their iconic captain, the Yankees knuckled under to public pressure and paid Jeter $51 for the next three years, a commitment they didn’t want to make.
Soon enough, probably after he gets his 3,000th hit sometime around July 1, they will likely move him out of the leadoff spot to someplace well down the order. He’s lost a step, his on-base percentage has dipped under .300 and he has yet to hit a home run. His range at shortstop is diminished.
Then there’s Alex Rodriguez, who has four hits in his last 50 at-bats. The addition of Eric Chavez had allowed Joe Girardi to get Rodriguez the odd day of rest but now Chavez has a broken foot and A-Rod is not going well.
Phil Hughes is having shoulder problems and that has thinned out an already unreliable starting rotation, where the Yanks are counting far too heavily on a couple of reclamation projects, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.
Then there’s Jorge Posada, deep into the back nine of his career, struggling along with a .154 batting average, trying to stay productive as a DH.
That adds up to a lot of concerns, even for a team as wealthy as the Yankees. Money can’t play shortstop or hit leadoff or give you seven innings every five days.
It’s been that kind of spring for the Minnesota Twins. Even when they do something right, it comes off as a bit bizarre.
Francisco Liriano pitched a no-hitter this week and rather than it being a rallying point, this 249th no-no is being portrayed as perhaps the worst no-hitter in history.
Liriano, who came into the game with a 9.15 ERA did not give up any hits, but he walked six and struck out two.
According to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, no pitcher in history has ever thrown a no-hitter while walking so many and striking out so few. Chicago outfielder Juan Pierre, who walked three times, actually raised his on-base percentage from .309 to .321 while performing for the losing team in a no-hitter.
SAY HEY KID TURNS 80
Imagine a ballplayer, a centrefielder, with Devon White’s glove, speed and range and Jesse Barfield’s arm. Then give him Robbie Alomar’s batting eye and baserunning instincts and Carlos Delgado’s raw power.
Imagine that ballplayer made up of four of the best ever to play for the Blue Jays and then realize you still don’t have what it takes to match Willie Mays as a complete player.
The Say Hey Kid turned 80 on Friday and baseball has never seen anything quite like him, before or since he played. When he retired in 1973 after 22 years, his 660 home runs were second only to Babe Ruth and he stood 29th in stolen bases, a rare combination of speed and power.
If he’s not the best of all time, then I’m not sure who was.