Alex Rodriguez needed yet another hip surgery, so the Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to play third base. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez signed elsewhere, so the Yankees got Travis Hafner to provide some much-needed power. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira were hurt in spring training, so the Yankees traded for Vernon Wells to play some outfield and provide a veteran bat.
It’s an all-new middle of the order, and so far Youkilis has a hit in every game, Hafner is tied for Yankees second-most RBI and Wells leads the team in slugging percentage.
“I think that’s why Cash brought us here,” Wells said. “Veteran guys, guys that have been through ups and downs and have seen the best and worst of this game, to be able to come here as a group and help each other, help this ballclub to be where we are right now. We couldn’t ask for more than that. We need to continue to be consistent with our approaches, continue to improve in different areas until we start getting bits and pieces of this puzzle back.”
The season is incredibly young, so it’s hard to draw any major conclusions, but for the time being, the new guys are more than holding down the fort. It’s perhaps the one thing that stands out most as the Yankees return home after back-to-back rainouts in Cleveland. The past few days have brought good news about Granderson, Teixeira and Derek Jeter — those three seem to be making progress — but the Yankees have had a viable and productive offense without them.
“You put this uniform on there’s something different about it,” Wells said. “I think it goes for guys on the other side who play (against) the Yankees. I’ve always felt there’s something different about this organization. From day one of being here, you look down and see an NY on your chest, its special, and guys relish the opportunity to put this uniform on and hopefully experience what this organization is accustomed to experiencing, and that’s winning.”
Even if you fully buy into the idea of a player being rejuvenated by the pinstripes, it’s certainly the kind of thing that’s hard to count on. The Yankees shouldn’t need this group to keep up quite this pace all season — at some point, the cavalry should arrive to carry the bulk of the burden — but if they can keep it up for a few more weeks, the Yankees just might weather the early storm.
“We need everybody back,” Wells said. “Whoever’s in that lineup, whoever’s called on that day is going to go out and contribute, and that’s the beauty of this team. A bunch of good guys, a bunch of guys who truly care about the pinstripes and not about each individual stat.”
Associated Press photo / video of Joe Girardi discussing the production from the new guys