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Five Reasons Why the New York Yankees Will Not Make the Playoffs in 2011

Posted on June 28, 2011 by Mike Pesesky

Derek Jeter has struggled with injuries and inconsistency so far this season for the Yankees.

At the risk of sounding like a New York Mets homer and an unabashed hater of the New York Yankees, I must tell you, that I am a New York Mets homer and an unabashed hater of the New York Yankees. I know, my subtlety and boldness is overwhelming, but all jokes aside, there are a multitude of reasons why the 2011 installment of the Yankees will miss the playoffs altogether, despite the fact they currently sit atop the American League East division. So, my heartfelt apologies, Mr. Bloomberg, but there will be no American League East championship, no wildcard, nothing, just the stench of another failed run at a World Series crown, for a team whose success is unequivocally defined by championship rings, not playoff berths.

Red Sox Nation
Despite a recent four-game losing streak, the Sox have a record of 20-10 over their last 30 games. Stop right here. I already know that you’re going to rebut my point with the fact that the Yankees are also 20-10 over their last 30 ball games. You see, records can be deceiving, much like the looks of that blonde you chatted up at the club over the weekend after you enjoyed a few beers. During this stretch, the Sox took two of three from Cleveland, three of four from Detroit, and they ripped off a nine-game winning streak, including a sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx. Boston also impressively won series versus Tampa Bay and Milwaukee. All told, that is five series wins against five of the top ten teams in the league in terms of overall record. Sure, the Yankees did take three of four from Cleveland and swept a Texas Rangers squad who sits atop the AL West. Let’s be honest though, The Rangers pitching staff has the consistency of bleu cheese crumbles.

Oh, did I mention the Red Sox own an 8-1 record against the Yankees in 2011? The Sox have outscored the Yanks 60-37 in the nine games this year and have swept them twice in the Bronx. With nine games remaining between the two teams, it is hard for me to envision the Yankees enjoying any success against a team that has dominated them in every facet of the game.

Stingray Alert

Not convinced the nine matchups against Boston over the final 86 games should be cause for concern? Fine, how about 16 more games against the pesky and very dangerous Tampa Bay Rays? The Yankees will close out the first half of the season with four games versus Tampa in the Bronx and will also face the upstart Rays in five of the last eight games of the season.

The Rays, fueled by consistent pitching, have benefited greatly from the impressive numbers put up by James Shields, who is once again living up to the “Big Game” moniker he was noted for in the Rays 2008 AL pennant run. Thus far in 2011, Shields has outpitched David Price, posting an impressive 8-4 record with a staggeringly low ERA of 2.29.

Speaking of impressive, it would be an egregious oversight if I overlooked what Evan Longoria did to the Houston Astros over the weekend. Longo was a beast at the plate, posting a .571 average with 3 HR’s and 10 RBI. If Longoria can continue to rake and post numbers like he did in Houston, the Rays offense will become one of the most balanced attacks in the American League.

Nobody could have envisioned the Rays sitting two games back in the AL East, especially after their abysmal start to the 2011 campaign. They are a young, hungry and well-managed team, and they have the best road record in the league at 26-16.

Will the New York Yankees Make the Playoffs this Season?

  • Yes (55%, 38 Votes)
  • No (45%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 69

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Diminishing Returns

Bartolo Colon was looking good before suffering an injury covering first base against the Indians on June 11th.

Despite missing all of 2010 and having been unable to log 200 innings in a season since 2005, Bartolo Colon’s bionic arm has given the Yankees exactly what they needed after they were spurned at the altar this offseason by Andy Pettitte. Colon has posted a 5-3 record with an ERA of 3.10 and 72 K’s. Fantastic numbers, considering Colon signed a one-year $900,000 contract as a non-roster player. However, Colon has been on the disabled list since June 12th with a hamstring injury. Colon was scheduled to throw a 50-pitch simulated game Monday in Tampa in hopes of returning to the starting rotation. According to the New York Daily News, there is no timetable set for his return.

Colon’s current hamstring injury could be the beginning of a steady decline in production as the season wears on. Pitching isn’t an easy craft, and I don’t care if Colon has stem cells in his arm or if he is the second coming of Henry Rowengartner, it is unfathomable to think that a pitcher of his age (38 years) and his weight (listed at 265) can hold up for an entire season after missing the previous season and pitching only 179.2 innings since 2008. It is a great story, and I am all for fat guys enjoying success, but there is zero chance that Colon will be able to produce at this same level for the remainder of the season, whenever it is that he returns.

Colon’s injury and uncertain future puts stress on a rotation, which, if history is any indication, is teetering on the brink of implosion. Much like Colon, Freddy Garcia is enjoying surprising success, but how will he hold up for the remainder of the season? A.J. Burnett is one bad inning away from reverting back to his 2010 ways, and has failed to post an ERA of less than 4.00 since 2007. Phil Hughes, well, he cannot hold his velocity, and is still on the 60-day DL. Where is that Rowengartner kid?

Yardwork or Bust
The Yankees have hit 111 home runs, which is good enough for first in the league by a significant margin (Milwaukee is second with 91). The 2009 New York Yankees are the only team since 2000 to lead the league in home runs and win the World Series. Recent history shows that teams need balance in order to be successful in the playoffs. In the 2010 ALCS, the mighty Yankees scored a meager 19 runs in six games against the Texas Rangers. Those same Texas Rangers, who ranked in the top 10 in runs and home runs in 2010, only scored 12 runs in a five game loss to the San Francisco Giants. Seven of those runs came in an 11-7 loss in Game 1.

Listen, it is easy to feast on the Phil Coke’s of the world, but when push comes to shove and A-Rod is looking down the barrel at Josh Beckett or David Price in September and October, my money is on the aces, every time.

Addicted to Glove
The Yankees are certainly not addicted to glove, as they rank 21st in the league in fielding percentage (.983) and are proud owners of the 12th most errors in the league with 49. Eduardo Nunez has contributed nine errors to this cause as he has had to shoulder the playing time at shortstop, with Derek Jeter out indefinitely with a calf strain. In addition, the Yankees have only turned 63 double plays in 76 games. Double dips are a pitcher’s best friend, so, if Nunez is going to continue to do his best Paul O’Neill impression and boot the ball over Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Bombers will no doubt be very hopeful that Jeter can make a hasty return from the disabled list.

The beauty about baseball is that it is played out over 162 games, spanning seven months. The great teams rise to the top and the pretenders are weeded out by late July or early August. Despite the fact the Yankees sit atop the AL East, I feel there are more questions than answers. This was the feeling before the season began, and it continues to be the story 76 games in. Defense and pitching wins as the pennant chase heats up and the Yankees are not consistent enough to do either at a championship level. Paging Andy Pettitte.

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