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Close isn’t good enough

Posted By Peter Abraham On April 27, 2009 @ 11:12 pm In Misc | 239 Comments

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Jim Leyland, as he often does, put it well.

“Sabathia pitched very well,” he said. “Verlander just pitched better.”

For what it’s worth, the cagey old skipper of the Tigers likes what he sees from the Yankees.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Leyland said of Sabathia. “It’s just a matter of time before he starts racking up wins. They’re a tough team to manage against. They’re about to get a lot tougher in three weeks from what I understand.”

Leyland is talking about the return of Alex Rodriguez, of course. The Yankees have scored three runs in their last 19 innings and are 8 of 51 (.157) with RISP in the last four. Once Rodriguez is back, the lineup will be deeper and presumably more productive.

But bringing back a 33-year-old former steroids user with a bad hip isn’t going to solve the problem of the Yankees looking like a company softball team at times. When you see Jacoby Ellsbury steal home or Curtis Granderson lay down a perfect bunt to start a rally, it’s a reminder of how old and slow the Yankees can look.

This team has good pitching and over time, that pitching will produce. Even the bullpen. But already we’re seeing sore knees (Hideki Matsui), sore shoulders (Johnny Damon) and Jorge Posada running down to first base like he’s pulling U-Haul trailer behind him. Derek Jeter let a groundball up the middle score a run today. By now you’re used to that.

Their “young and athletic” guys are Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera. Cano is 13 of 27 on stolen bases in his career and Melky was benched last summer.

Other teams can make things happen at the plate or in the field. The Yankees seem to have no choice but to wait and hope something does. Their roster is so top heavy with aging and expensive players that an injury or two throws everything off.

Even Mark Teixeira seems to be getting a little frustrated.

“I’m here to produce, not have good at-bats,” he said. “Good at-bats don’t do anybody any good. … We just haven’t gotten the job done. Everyone needs to step up a little bit.”

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