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Yanks bullpen is Achilles heal

May 19, 2010

Joba no longer has the mystique of 2007.

Three games. Three blown leads. The Yankees bullpen is in trouble.

I don’t know what to think of the last three games — two against Boston, one versus Minnesota — but I know one thing for sure. Mariano will be OK. I can’t say the same thing about Joba Chamberlain.

For a pitcher who everyone craved, better yet pleaded, to have back in the bullpen, he’s been quite pedestrian. Before Sunday’s game, Joba had struck out seven of his last 10 batters and had not permitted a run in eight straight outings. He had a 2.16 ERA on the season with a   .197 batting average against.

Since then, he’s imploded. He got lit up during Tuesday’s game, allowing four runs and single-handledly blew the game, and the win, for CC Sabathia.

His focus seems to wane during innings, and I think the Yankees have officially ruined Joba. The whole, starter or reliever debate, really screwed with his psyche, and I don’t know if he’ll ever be that guy from 2007.

Now, I don’t want to blame all the losses on the pen, which I could certainly do. The Yankees had numerous managerial mistakes and mental lapses that contributed to the loss. Here are some of them:

1) A-Rod’s error in the 8th. Though Joba should have been able to work around the error, it obviously unnerved him on the mound. Alex needs to make that play. For God sakes, he makes $27.5 million, you’d think he could make a routine play.

2) Marcus Thames error in the 9th. I’m still confused why Girardi sent down Greg Golston to bring up Mark Melancon. Thames is a POOR fielder, and that’s an understatement. His shoddy defense in the outfield has cost the Yanks 4 wins, two of those being Javy Vazquez starts. I never want to see Thames in the outfield again. Golston should have been in right and Thames on the bench.

I get it though. Take Thames out and you lose his bat in the bottom of the 9th. But, if you believe in pre-determined destinies, Thames wouldn’t have gotten to bat because the score would had still been tied and Cano would have had the walk-off double to win the game. Thames bad play allowed for Hermida to bat, thus costing the Yanks the game.

3) What was Girardi thinking playing Winn so shallow in left? Shouldn’t the outfield be at NO-DOUBLES depth with two men on? He was damn near at third base. A horrible move by Girardi, that combined with Thames poor play = Yankees loss.

Yankees fans should not have high expectations for the current team. Yes, they still have Jeter, Arod, Tex and Cano. But look at 6-9: Cervelli, Juan Miranda, Thames and Winn. Looks more like a spring training squad than a regular season team.

Now every team goes through its share of injuries, and injuries to Swisher, Posada, Johnson and Granderson have depleted this team, but since they continue to win series, their absences have been masked. But don’t be fooled. If those four guys don’t come back — which I believe they all will — the Yanks are in trouble.

Last night, the Yankees depended on the bottom half of their lineup to win them the game. They did it on Monday, but you can’t rely on them two nights in a row. They are what they are: bench players. Meaning, they shouldn’t be in the lineup everyday. The Yankees lineup is no longer circular, and they will not put together win streaks until the team is fully restored.

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