It's never a good sign when your team is losing by three runs in the 9th inning and your manager decides to bring in your closer. It's even worse when that closer is Mo Rivera and he is forced to give way to Mike "I can't believe I tricked the Yankees into signing me" Myers with one run in and the bases loaded. What I found most pitiful was Rivera feeling the need to throw over to first base FIVE times to keep Coco Crisp from stealing second (which Coco ultimately did anyway). That's not the Mo Rivera I've come to know and hate over the years.
You're right, it's still April. These games don't really count. However, just like NFL pre-season games, you'd rather see your team win than watching them consistently get crushed. It might not mean anything but you can't help but let the doubts creep in. Well, the Yankees just fell to 6 1/2 games behind the Red Sox (and own the rights to last place in the AL East). 6 1/2 games certainly isn't an insurmountable lead for the Bombers to overcome but if I'm a Yankees fan right now, I'm beginning to second guess my team a little.
For starters, the Yankees have A LOT of money tied up in several aging veterans. While A-Rod seems to be earning his $27.7M/year, the Yanks have $10M wrapped up in perpetual DL inhabitant, Carl Pavano. Jason Giambi makes $23.4M, and while he can still hit, that is some serious cake for a DH that can't run. Abreu is making $15.6M a hefty sum for a guy that instills fear into no one right now. What's crazy is that among those four players, the Yanks are spending more than the individual payrolls of the bottom 13 teams in MLB.
At the risk of stating the obvious. the Bombers pitching situation is a mess. Bob Klapisch of ESPN wrote, "[the Yankees] best game this week was the one they didn't play -- Wednesday's rainout against the Blue Jays, which allowed Andy Pettitte to start tonight against the Red Sox." Hindsight being 20-20, one might argue that didn't end up being such a big advantage (he got pulled in the 5th inning of tonight's game.)
What's tough about the Yanks lack of consistency with their 9 man rotation these days is the fact that they are averaging 4.9 innings/start, lowest in the majors. History shows that this can kill your bullpen in a hurry. Poor Scott Proctor is on pace to pitch 162 games this year (yes, I'm exaggerating on that one.) Mariano Rivera's less than stellar showing tonight is one more data point supporting the argument that his best days may be behind him.
Two more games to go in the series. While I like our chances tomorrow with Wake facing off against Jeff Karstens, my rationale brain tells me that odds do not favor us in Sunday's game with Tavarez leading the charge against Yanks new ace, Chien Ming Wang. Even so, splitting the remaining two games is still a major victory for the Sox (that would be five out of six to start the season). Still a long way to go until September but I like what I'm seeing...