The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Breaking down the slump

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Jun 24, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The Yankees were riding high as they started a series in Boston on June 9. They were in first place alone, 11 games over .500 and had won 19 of their previous 25 games.

They are 4-9 since and now tied for second place with Toronto. Tampa Bay is closing fast.

What happened? Let’s look for reasons as to what caused this:

Pitching: Nope, not here. The Yankees have a 3.89 ERA in those 13 games and the bullpen has actually pitched better than it has all season.

Schedule: Nope, not here. Outside of the Red Sox, the Yankees faced the Mets, Nationals, Marlins and Braves. This was supposed to be an “easy ” stretch.

Offense: What else could it be? The Yankees are hitting .240 with a .326 on-base percentage and a .394 slugging percentage in those 13 games and averaging 4.0 runs. In their previous 57 games, they were averaging 5.7 runs and hitting .277/.356/.482 as a team.

Clutch hitting: The Yankees were hitting .266 with runners in scoring position over the first 57 games. Not great, but it was working. They are at .238 since. If you discount that 15-0 game against the Mets, it’s .194. They’ve fallen off the cliff of clutch.

Power hitting: The Yankees have 13 home runs in the last 13 games including one in the last five. They had been averaging 1.6 home runs per game previously. I think there is something to the idea that they had grown content with the idea of waiting for somebody to hit a home run. Then when it doesn’t happen, nobody knows what to do. Has the new Stadium screwed them up?

Let’s look at the players individually. Here are games played, batting, RBI and OPS for the key Yankees. We’ll go in descending order of OPS

Matsui: 12 games, 8 of 28, 5 RBI, .980
Gardner: 12 games, 8 of 20, 2 RBI, .955
Cano: 13 games, 17 of 52, 8 RBI, .903
Teixeira: 13 games, 13 of 49, 5 RBI, .838
Jeter: 12 games, 12 of 47, 4 RBI, .716
Cabrera: 12 games, 8 of 20, 2 RBI, .694
Damon: 13 games, 8 of 43, 6 RBI, .643
Posada: 12 games, 7 of 26, 2 RBI, .598
Swisher: 12 games, 7 of 42, 1 RBI, .548
Rodriguez: 12 games, 4 of 39, 5 RBI, .486

Matsui and Gardner, who have played the least, have played the best. That’s not good. But with interleague play, Matsui has little use. Swisher’s inconsistent tendencies are hurting them. He has been either very good or very bad this season and he’s in one of his very bad periods. Posada has not given them the lift hoped for when he came off the DL. Melky also has reverted to his usual Melkyness.

And of course we have our old friend Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. The Yankees basically have had one of the coldest hitters in the game in the middle of their lineup. The problem, as Tyler Kepner explained on Bats, is that we have no idea whether Alex can emerge from this or not. This could be what he is post-steroids and post-surgery.

Here’s a lineup to consider tonight, assuming Damon can play:

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
A-Rod 3B
Posada C
Swisher RF
Gardner CF
Chamberlain RHP

Or take a chance and play Matsui in LF. He hits Kawakami well according to the Japanese media. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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