Our last Pinch Hitter is James Ramos, a 26-year-old who grew up in Hazlet, N.J., before attending the University of Notre Dame. The last game he saw at old Yankee Stadium was had Carl Pavano on the mound. “I never realized how universally hated the Yankees and their fans are until I lived in Minnesota for a few years after college,” he wrote. “ ‘Minnesota nice’ vanishes pretty quickly when the Yankees roll into town.” James now works in the city and lives back in New Jersey with his wife.
For his guest post, James took exception to the idea that the Yankees season is over before it’s even started.
Spring training means hope springs anew for 29 teams. Sadly, according to a large group of their fans, the New York Yankees are the one team that has no hope for the 2011 season. After coming within two games of the World Series last year, the Yankees were only able to upgrade their catcher, designated hitter and bullpen this offseason.
As many Yankee fans have pointed out, “we” were unable to sign Cliff Lee. This will be a miserable season for “us” because “we” will finish fourth behind the Blue Jays. Why haven’t “we” traded Montero, Nunez and Laird for Felix Hernandez?! “We” should trade for Johan Santana so the Mets won’t have a better record than “us.”
I’ve come to realize there is a significant divide amongst us Yankee fans.
There are the reactionaries and the pessimists, only satiated by the offseason in which CC and Teixeira offset the (“retroactively awful”) signing of A.J. Burnett. These fans are more often than not in the “we” and “us” crowd when referring to the Yankees. Then there are the optimists and rational observers who are able to refer to our team as “the Yankees” or “they” when discussing how this team is still better than just about every team in the Major Leagues. Perhaps not forging that “we” link between yourself and the team leads to the ability to objectively judge the offseason in the context of other moves made in the American League.
How can we think that the Yankees are not condemned to failure with their current rotation? The 2009 World Champions had Wang, Chamberlain, Hughes, Mitre, Gaudin and Aceves as their fourth and fifth starters. That group combined for 63 starts (in which the Yankees went 39-24) or 32.5% (304 of the 935) of the innings by Yankees’ starters. Combined, they put up a 16-17 record with a 5.80 ERA and a 1.625 WHIP.
It is certainly plausible that Mitre, Nova and whoever else takes up the back end of the rotation can combine for something similar. The Yankees’ strong offense and bullpen should keep them competitive in every game the No. 4 and 5 pitchers start.
The team in March is never the team in October. The Yankees will be one of the best teams in baseball all year, and as the season progresses, Brian Cashman will make the necessary moves to improve the team.
Contrary to what some may think, the season is not over before pitchers and catchers report.
Associated Press photo