Tuesday, April 12, 2011

N.Y. Yankees Digging the Long Ball and Not Much Else

The New York Yankees are tied for the league lead in home runs with 18 but still look anemic at the plate.  A .236 team average is something the team is not used to--even if it is only nine games into the season--and seems worse when you realize four regular starters are well below the Mendoza Line with two others barely above it.

The Yankees No. 4 and No. 5 hitters,  Robinson Cano (.324) and Alex Rodriguez (.321), are batting at least 115 points over the leadoff and No. 2 spots--Brett Gardner (.167) and Derek Jeter (.206).

Out of the Yankees 70 total hits this season, 18 have gone over the fence.  They are on pace for a record 324 jacks and only 1260 hits.

Hot starts by Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are faded memories.  The sliding threesome went 0-for-9 with 8 strikeouts against Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.  They have combined for nine home-runs but, with an average of .182, Teixeira is the stud of that bunch.  Take away the homers and those three are a combined 6-of-81.

Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long hasn't heard the Steinbrenner alarm yet--thanks to the awful start by the Red Sox and he puts on a happy face when asked about the slumping players.

"I've felt good about our offense thus far and I still do," Long said after the Sox ace struck out ten Yankees on Sunday.  "This isn't any time to hit the panic button just because Josh Beckett came out and threw the ball really well."

True.  But how does he justify the lack of hits against pitchers who didn't throw the ball as well as Beckett so far this year?

It seems unlikely that Jeter or Gardner won't pick it up at the top of the order or that Mark Teixeira won't be rattled from his annual April swoon.  And there's no way that the DH Posada or outfielder Granderson will still be batting .138 and .172, respectively, at the end of the season, but there has to be concern--even with a 5-4 record.

If anything the Yankee hits have been timely.  They were sixth in runs scored (50).

Manager Joe Girardi knows nine games do not make a season.  "You can't make too much of a few at-bats," he said.  "You can't just do it because early in the season you're going to see guys have ups and downs.  You're going to see it, and then as they start getting more at-bats under their belts, they start to get more consistent."

The Yankees may be hiding their lack of hits behind their home-run onslaught.  Everyone knows chicks really dig the long-ball, but I don't think hitting coaches do.

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