Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No country for old men

These are exactly the type of games that explain why the Yankees in all likelihood will not qualify for the postseason in 2008.

The offense, simply put, is not good enough to compete on a day-to-day basis. Toronto starter A.J. Burnett struck out 13 over eight innings on Tuesday, exposing the once-great Yankees lineup as an old and slow group. Take Johnny Damon, the affable outfielder who singlehandedly beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS. Damon was a 31-year-old All-Star back then. Four years later, Damon can still hit, but his defensive struggles make him little more than an unorthodox designated hitter. And yet, on a roster of beat-up veterans, the Yankees are asking Damon to be the starting center fielder for the rest of the season. Damon showed why this is an error in judgment on Tuesday, dropping two fly balls -- the second costing his team an incredibly important game. As always, Damon was accountable for his actions after the game, but that doesn't make the gaffes disappear.

Jason Giambi was a monster when the Yankees signed him to a seven-year, $120 million deal prior to the 2002 season. He was 30 and arguably baseball's best hitter not named Bonds at the time. Now? You still pay him that monster salary ($23 million in '08 alone), but his production doesn't come close to matching the dollars. Four strikeouts in four at-bats against the Blue Jays, looking geriatric and helpless in the process.

And while some are helpless, others are just hopeless. Take Alex Rodriguez. No seriously, take him. As he always does when facing real competition, A-Rod was completely overmatched by Burnett, striking out in each of his first three at-bats. When he led off the ninth with a blooper over the first-base bag, he hesitated out of the box, allowing just enough time for Lyle Overbay to make the throw to nail him easily at second base. Did Overbay make a fine play? Of course. But too often A-Rod plays the clown for the Yankees. He's the face of failure.

The woeful offense wasted an uncharacteristically strong performance by Darrell Rasner, who allowed one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings. The team fell to 16-27 in series openers, a statistic that illustrates the lack of urgency that has helped shipwreck this season.

My confidence in this team has reach a season-low. I believe the Yankees need to go 4-2 on this road trip to stay alive by the time the Red Sox come to the Bronx. Well, they're 0-1 so far with Yankee-destroyer Roy Halladay looming in the series finale.

Dark days, my friends. If you have some extra faith send it my way ... because I'm starting to lose hope.

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