Face it: The Yankees playoff hopes are very slim

By Rich Mancuso

The reality is the New York Yankees are not a very good team and with 42 games remaining, including three at Tampa Bay this weekend, their playoff chances are very slim. And there are plenty of factors that go into the equation as to why the Yankees are not a playoff bound team and will most likely fail to play post season baseball a second consecutive year.

At this point, one can question moves on the field made by manager Joe Girardi, or the roster moves that were put in place by the GM Brian Cashman, and if indeed this season is another failure does that leave the job securities of Girardi or Cashman in jeopardy?

The manager and GM will finish the season with their roles, trying to see that Yankee Stadium will not be dark in October. If there is a great stretch to the end and if the Yankees manage to sneak in for that second wild card spot a one-game elimination away from home does not offer much hope that the post season for the Yankees will be a long one.

 Cashman and Girardi will be interesting speculation when the season concludes as to their futures in the Bronx, though much of that has to be questioned as to who is at fault for this inevitable end of a disappointing season, for a team that spent $450 million this past off-season. Once again it goes to show in the Bronx that spending and opening your vault does not guarantee a championship.

When principal owner Hal Steinbrenner said the offense has been inconsistent, that they spent a lot of money on that portion of their game, he was saying something that has been a persistent issue since the first pitch was thrown in April.  Though at times the Yankees looked like they would get the offense going, there have been more times where the bats have been silent and the inconsistency continued the past few games at Baltimore.

Girardi can no longer answer the question, what is wrong? His usual response to the question has been, “Every team goes through this.” And, “This is baseball.”  Now there is a more perplexed expression on the face of this manager, and a different tune to the question: What is wrong with the offense?

“I don’t know,” says Girardi who has taken a brunt of criticism for not keeping Michael Pineda in the game longer in the Yankees series finale loss to the Orioles Wednesday night. In fairness to the manager, Pineda was making his first start since mid April and there are still concerns about the right shoulder.

But we do know. Because the Yankees come into Tampa Friday night tied for 19th in the American League in the run scoring department. Their big off-season acquisitions of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have been a failure. Jacoby Ellsbury has been the best of the trio. Mark Teixeira will show an occasional punch but it is obvious that he is a player that continues to play hurt and can’t find an answer to his continued struggles at the plate.

The flaws are evident. Management, though, should take some responsibility as the Yankees attempt to make this a final stretch of games and assure that Derek Jeter does not play his final game up in Boston the end of next month.

Consider that Beltran and his huge three-year contract, $15 million this year, has been playing with two bad knees and an assortment of other freak injuries have regulated him to an almost permanent and disappointing DH role.  His signature moment, as was described, the walk-off winning home run, in the Bronx, as the Yankees came from behind and got a win over the first place Orioles on June 20th.

There has been nothing of a major magnitude coming from Beltran, maybe is 11th career grand slam home run on the last homestand against Cleveland and his five RBI, the most since September 30  of the 2012 season when he was with St. Louis. Beltran may never be the same player that he once was and a bone spur in his right elbow forced him to miss 21-games.

The Beltran contract is one of many reasons the Yankees are in this struggle. That goes along with McCann and his continued struggles of adapting to American League pitching, because he does not resemble the power hitter and offensive threat that the Yankees saw when he wore a uniform with the Atlanta Braves.

 And the Yankees are stuck with the long term and lucrative contracts, something they should have avoided after their disaster of a long-term deal of the Alex Rodriguez saga.  Oh, A-Rod, according to the Yankees, should be ready to go in 2015, and that does not spell for any significant improvement for this team and their goals of bringing another championship to the Bronx.

Pitching, despite four-fifths of a rotation decimated with injuries has been respectable and had it been otherwise, perhaps the Yankees would be more than eight-games away from first in the Al East and more than four-games out from that second wild card. The bullpen has also been respectable, though starting to show signs of being overused with the ineffectiveness of Adam Warren and Shawn Kelly at times.  

What is so evident, with all the injuries this team has been hindered with the past two years, is there are no valuable replacements in the Yankees minor league system, and whatever prospects are down there are not ready to become difference makers anytime soon.  That was evident when the Yankees utilized Yangervis Solarte at third base, a seven-year minor leaguer who was eventually traded as an everyday player out in San Diego.    

It has been a revolving door of players coming and going. There have been 53 different players used, and on a daily basis there is another transaction on the roster which almost seems certain that the Yankees will surpass the franchise record of 56 players used last season.

Steinbrenner, not anything like his late and legendary father will be watching these next three games down in Tampa. Yet, he also shares some of this responsibility as to the results these past 119 games to his New York Yankees.

And there is little hope as time is running out in mid August.

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