Here’s what the smartest guy… er, biggest smart-aleck I know wrote about the 2013 Yankees during spring training.
The potential for early season carnage is the highest for any Yankees squad since 1992, back when Lee Gutterman was the closer and Hensley Meulens was a regular starter
Whoops. Two problems here. First, Meulens played just two games for the Yankees in ’92 (though he was a starter in ’91). Second, that “early season carnage” I was so afraid of? It’s been there like I expected — except the Bombers have been on the giving end.
The team that most pundits picked to finish at the bottom of the AL East just swept away the Toronto Blue Jays over four games, getting clutch hits in Sunday’s 3-2 win from Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay. Neither of these players were on the roster when I made my gloomy preseason predictions, but they’ve combined to start 26 games so far for the Bombers.
The rest of the Yankees’ castoffs, has-beens and never-weres have been even more impressive. Travis Hafner, whose baseball peak came in 2006, is hitting .305/.423/.695 with six HRs and 14 RBIs in 20 games at DH. Vernon Wells, who was almost historically atrocious over the past two season for the Angels, has been reborn in pinstripes, batting .294/.358/.553 with six HRs and 12 RBIs in 22 games. That’s 12 HRs and 26 RBIs in less than a month for two guys who the Yankee brass HOPED could contribute over the course of the season.
It’s not just Wells and Hafner, though. Overbay, who was cut by the Red Sox on March 26th, has been a defensive wizard at first base and has three HRs including Sunday’s game-winner. Jayson Nix, perhaps the biggest never-was on the team, has several key hits and has been solid at third. Boesch has been largely disappointing, but he’s a young talent who should improve as the season goes on. Other than the forgettable Ben Francisco (3-for-29 so far), the Yankees’ ragtag bunch has been more than good enough to supplement Robbie Cano, Brett Gardner and marquee offseason signing Kevin Youkilis in the top half of the order.
To be fair, the Yankees are 15-9 because of their pitching first and foremost. But that’s for another post, because as diehard Yankee fans and overall baseball guru Rich Greenberg might glibly say, you have to score to win. And in the Yankees’ four-game sweep, the winning hits came from Cano, Overbay, Hafner and Overbay again. With Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson (and now Francisco Cervelli) mired on the disabled list, this collection of Yankee castoffs will have to come up big night after night for the Bombers to sustain their hot start.
So far, so good.