|A view you may not see again this year.|
Yankees' Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner announced earlier today that the team is rolling out new healthcare legislation, "GeorgeCare", due to the rash of injuries the team has suffered this season. The new legislation will allow the Yankees to carry a 50-man active roster and fans will receive rebates every time Matt Thornton pitches or Kelly Johnson bobbles a ball at first base.
All kidding aside, the Yankees are a physical mess right now and there is no hope in sight for a healthy turnaround.
The death knell to the season may have come when it was discovered that Masahiro Tanaka had a slight tear of his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL). Tanaka will be out a minimum of six weeks, and Tommy John surgery has not been ruled out of his future.
The injury leaves Hiroki Kuroda as the only starting pitcher left from the five man rotation the Yankees hoped to trot out to the pitcher's mound. CC Sabathia has been out since mid-May due to a degenerative knee injury; Michael Pineda was DL'ed on May 6, when he felt pain in the area below his right shoulder, and Ivan Nova, who looked to have returned to his 2011 form in the second half of last season, went down early to Tommy John surgery. And then the big blow to the season came with the loss of Tanaka, who was among the league leaders in all positive pitching categories.
Unless a decision is made prior to that, if Tanaka needs surgery and doesn't have the operation until August or September, there goes the entire 2015 season and probably part of 2016. For now David Phelps, Shane Greene, and Brandon McCarthy are in the rotation, along with Kuroda. But who will be joining them?
Chase Whitley started out fantastically, but crashed back to Earth in his last three starts (17 earned runs in 10.1 innings pitched). He did pick up the win in relief on Wednesday when the Yankees topped the Indians 4-2 in 14 innings.
Left-hander David Huff has pitched fairly effectively out of the bullpen and is a former starter, though he has only started six games since 2011. (Two with the Yankees last year and four with the Indians in 2012.)
The Yankees added another left-hander to the mix Friday when they acquired Jeff Francis from the Oakland A's for a player to be named later. Francis had been designated for assignment on July 3 after he had allowed nine earned runs in 13.1 innings pitched. Francis pitched through shoulder pain for the Colorado Rockies in 2008 and missed the entire 2009 season after he underwent shou7lder surgery. He's never regained the effectiveness he had in 2006-2007, when he averaged 15 wins and a 4.19 ERA, with his home games played in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
The Yankees lineup is suffering too. Carlos Beltran has been a walking disaster area. He missed time due to a bone spur in his elbow and a strained hamstring. Then during batting practice on Wednesday, Beltran fouled a ball into the cage. It ricocheted back into his face, causing two small facial fractures. He was placed on the 7-day disabled list to check for a concussion as well. So far, the three-year deal given to Beltran is a complete bust.
The trade deadline (July 31) will be coming up before you know it. The Yankees always go for the gold, but do they sell instead this year? If their still floundering in three weeks, it might be for the best to try to deal some players. David Robertson will be a free agent after this season. He can always come back, so why not trade him to a team willing to pay a heavy price for one of the better relievers in baseball.
Though his hitting hasn't been tremendous, Brian Roberts has stayed healthy and could be traded for a minor prospect or two. See if Hiroki Kuroda is willing to waive his no-trade clause. Perhaps a reunion with the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in the offing.
Who should build/rebuild this team?
You never know when injuries will strike, but there's a greater chance with older players. Combined with the lack of top prospects at the top tier of the farm system, and you can see why it maybe time for Brian Cashman and the scouting department to be under more scrutiny. Cashman has been creative, at times, in building a team, but the putrid play the last two seasons have shown that maybe it's time someone else was the team's foreman.