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The End of the Line for the Yanks

August 31, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

With the Yankees dropping their rubber match against the Blue Jays by a 6-2 count on Sunday afternoon, it’s becoming more and more clear that their 13-year run of post-season appearances is nearing an end.

New York missed a chance to gain ground today and still trails Boston by seven games for the AL Wild Card, with the Twins standing between the two teams. And of course now suddenly Toronto is just two games back of New York.

What an unfitting final tribute to the House that Ruth Built 2008 is turning out to be in the Bronx.

So what happened?

Age is certainly a factor, as the Yanks, as usual, are among baseball’s oldest teams. But an elderly Yankee team is nothing new; what’s new this year is the sheer magnitude of injuries this team has had to face. Andy Pettitte, Brian Bruney, Jorge Posada, Sean Henn, Phil Hughes, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Karstens, Chris Britton, Chien-Ming Wang, Jonathan Albaladejo, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Dan Giese and Carl Pavano are among the players who have missed time this season.

Derek Jeter, who we’ve discussed quite a bit in recent weeks, continues to hit well lately, but it’s been rather hollow, with no extra-base hits, no RBI and no steals in the past week. But despite the fact you’d like to see more pop from him, the dude is batting over .350 this month, so we can’t moan too much.

The prognosis is promising for Jorge Posada, who underwent shoulder surgery last month. He’ll be able to begin light workouts in three-to-five weeks, so that should put him on pace for Spring Training 2009.

Andy Pettitte was molested by the BoSox last week, and had a rough start to his outing Sunday against the Jays. He’s been dreadful in the second half, with an ERA almost five and a quarter, causing him to wind up on some waiver wires. My advice: hang on to him; he’ll finish strong.

On the plus side, Mariano Rivera continues to impress, tossing six straight scoreless outings. In fact, the first five of those outings, were not only scoreless, but they were hitless, too, and in just one of them did he walk anyone. More impressive: five of those last six outings involved stints of longer than one inning. Oh ya, Mo is slowing down. Right. While he showed some minor cracks in July, he’s been lights out again in August, and while he hasn’t been used quite as much as he was in 2007, Rivera has put up the second highest strikeout rate of his career. At age 38, I might add. Wow.

Jason Giambi isn’t exactly hitting up a storm with that porn ‘stache, BA-wise, but his power is back in a big way this month, having launched a season-best eight dingers in August after going yard Sunday. After a season in which he looked really lost thanks to injuries, Giambi has enjoyed a fine bounceback year, and deserves some consideration for Comeback Player of the Year honours. He’s once again a virtual must-own fantasy commodity.

Alex Rodriguez has been quiet lately, but he, too, went deep Sunday, putting him just one dinger shy of an 11th straight campaign of at least 30 long balls. As hot as he was in May (when healthy), June and July, A-Rod really struggled in August, just when the team needed him the most. Obviously, his injury is a huge factor in the fact that 2008 hasn’t been nearly as productive as his monumental 2007, but a slugging percentage that’s 70 points lower is definitely a big part of the reason, too. Of course, much has been made of his sub-.250 mark with runners in scoring position, especially considering he hit .333 and drove in almost 100 of his 156 runs in this situation last season.

Impressive stat of the day: Mike Mussina walked six batters in 40 IP in August. Pretty good, eh? Actually, this represents his highest walk total in any one month this season.

Matsui’s struggles in recent games have caused him to wind up on some waiver wires in more shallow leagues. He has failed to record a multiple-hit game since coming off the DL, and in fact is batting a mere .179 since. Godzilla’s absence, combined with his lack of productivity when he’s played, is a bigger factor in the disappointing Yankee season than people have made of it.

On the plus side, Damon continued his fine recent play with his second multi-hit game of the series Sunday. He started the month somewhat sluggishly, but still wound up batting .300 in August, giving him four straight months with at least that high an average. What I’m most stoked about if I own him, however, is that he’s running wild again, swiping ten bases in August after heading into the month with 15 total steals on the season. He’s now on pace to reach 30 thefts for the first time since 2003, a figure that, when combined with his career high in OBP, a fine BA, and some decent pop, makes him an elite fantasy outfielder.

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