Monday, October 15, 2012

Yankees may not recover from Jeter loss

Could the New York Yankees suffer a more crushing blow than the loss of their captain?

No. It's an easy question to answer. Not only was Derek Jeter the only regular in the Yankees lineup actually hitting the ball and getting on base, but he was an inspiration to his team, clearly playing at well below 100% (which may have contributed to his devastating injury). Jeter was trying to carry his team across the finish line with the sheer strength of his talent and personality, but he couldn't do the job by himself and now the Yankees will have to do the job without him.

Can the Yankees survive this loss? I have my doubts. The starting pitching has been tremendous, with strong outings by playoff veteran Andy Pettitte and Yankee newcomer Hiroki Kuroda in the first two games of the American League Championship Series, and Raul Ibanez providing the thump the Bronx Bombers have been missing. But the rest of the offense, with the exception of two innings in which they scored multiple runs, has completely vanished this postseason. Alex Rodriguez has been the main target of vitriol (despite a brief effort by Yankee fans to will him to get a base hit with their cheers), but there are plenty of culprits. Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher have been particularly frustrating with their numerous strikeouts and weak popups with runners on base. You can only fail a limited number of times in the postseason before the fans start to turn on you.

The Yankees have survived the devastating blow of losing Mariano Rivera. But that happened back in May, giving the Yankees plenty of time to adjust under less stressful circumstances and giving Rafael Soriano the chance to show that he could step into Mo's shoes to soften the blow. Losing Jeter in Game 1 of the ALCS, especially when the rest of the regular lineup can't manage a hit with men in scoring position, could knock the Yankees right out of the playoffs.

Jason Nix is a good player and he makes solid contact when given the chance to play. Eduardo Nunez has explosive power and speed. But neither of them are Derek Jeter. There is no other Derek Jeter. And the Yankees will have to figure out a way to win without their October magic man.

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