Friday, June 21, 2013


Lots of stuff a-happenin' in the twelve days we've been off in search of the ozone layer, and we will catch up with as much of it as possible from now until the end of the month...

...but the first and foremost occurrence in the ongoing '13 season is the hitting slide that has (finally) arrived in the Bronx.

With their aging and/or highly-paid hitters in drydock for much of the first half of the season, many folks expected the Yankees to be having a tough time putting runs on the scoreboard. In April, however, with Curtis Granderson (AL HR leader over the previous two seasons), Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez on the shelf--and we won't even bring up (or will we??) Derek Jeter--the Bombers hit 36 HRs, tied for the most in the AL, led by the slugging of Robinson Cano (6 HRs) and off-season acquisitions Vernon Wells (7 HRs) and Travis Hafner (6 HRs).

Joe Girardi: The power outage (and those shades) have made
even broad daylight a good bit shadowier than usual...
As a result of that, the Yanks got off to a 16-10 start, helped in large part by going 9-1 in close games. That all leveled off in May, however, as Wells (.631 OPS) and Hafner (.581 OPS) cooled off dramatically. The Yanks began tinkering with spare part pickups (Brennan Boesch), and got a good month from journeyman Lyle Overbay, but they wound up just treating water (15-13 in May).

Now we're three weeks into June, and the Bombers (with Granderson back on the shelf and Teixeira struggling) have stopped hitting. In the first 20 games this month, the Yankees are hitting just .212 and have a combined OPS of .588. While there's still plenty of time for them to pull things together, that level of production would be the lowest of any team in any month during 2013--even (for goodness' sakes!) the Marlins.

So far, the Yankees have hit just 10 HRs in June--second-lowest in the AL. (Yes, that's right: the Royals, even in their get-up-off-the-floor mode, have hit only eight.) Wells, perhaps spooked by a return to his old West Coast "stinking grounds," has hit .105 during the month--and Hafner has been almost as anemic.

Remember that crack about the ozone layer? Well, here's
the hole in it--and (at least thus far in June, anyway...)
the hole in the Yankees' offense.
One other way to measure it is to look at the number of games in which the Yankees are scoring three runs or less. In 2012, MLB teams scored three runs or less in games 45% of the time. The Yankees had the lowest percentage of such games in 2012, just 32%.

In April this year, the Yanks were still very close to that performance level (34%, 9 out of 26). In May, however, they scored three runs or less in half their games (14 out of 28). Thus far in June, they've scored three runs or less in 11 of 18 games (62%).

Of course, they're still in the hunt in the AL East, and getting all of their veterans back after the All-Star Break could be just enough to get them over the hump. But they are really going to have to work for it, since there are three other teams in their division that have demonstrated that they can give them a run for their (wad of) money.

[UPDATE 6/22: The Yankees have called up switch-hitting outfielder Zoilo Almonte, one of those many, many shadowy Caribbean free agents signed as schoolboys who are (or at least used to be) exempt from the strictures of the draft. Almonte, in his eighth year as a Yankee farmhand, came up with a bang last night--his first big-league HR--and drove in three runs today to help the Bombers find some offense at last. His presence seems to have lit a fuse under Vernon Wells's flickering Sterno can...VW came off the bench and delivered a game-winning, pinch-hit, bases-loaded double to push the Bombers past the floundering Rays, 7-5. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have now won ten in a row but need to keep it up as they get a large swatch of games against AL East rivals in the next week...]