Thaw : to go from a frozen to a liquid state : melt b : to become free of the effect (as stiffness, numbness, or hardness) of cold
For not only our esteemed team; we have all dealt with the unpredictable weather, the unusual cold spells and the non stop rainy days that can really put a damper on family and sports activities in every town across the USA. For our Yankees; they have faired pretty well and have managed to put together a decent start even though: 1) Jetes is struggling 2) Jorge is searching for answers 3) The pitching staff is holding it together by a thread and 4) We only have one healthy lefty in the bullpen.
In our case; the cold has actually allowed guys like AJ and CC to really control the tempo and cadence of our games. And we have surprisingly jumped on top of the AL East due to the anchor that both of these guys have provided since opening day. Yet; for the baseball purists out there, there is a cloud looming over the NY Yankees and some of our pre-season plans and hopes did not pan out the way we would have liked. Did we learn a lesson from this; or better yet, did the Yankee brass learn a lesson that all the money in the world is not going to guarantee anything. Won’t guarantee a great player; it won’t guarantee a winning record and it won’t guarantee chemistry. About the only thing it will guarantee is the money is available to get what you want – usually when you need it. And when you have all the money in the world to spend; there really shouldn’t be any excuses going into a new season because you’ve had the money for years. You have had the competitive edge since 1996. You have had the expertise; scouts and player personnel to scour college ball; watch and rate the best in the minors and send the player reps to Panama, Cuba and the Dominican to meet with the rising stars and lure them to the Sultan of Swats penthouse in the Bronx. So the big question now is: when we come out of the thaw, do we have the pitching and team defense to take us to the World Series in 2011? Are we playing for next year in hope that Manny and Steve will bolster our pitching staff and finally provide the balance we need to bring home the 28th Championship?
There is no excuse for a lack of long term planning; especially in a game where only 1000 or so extremely talented players will grace the Major League fields and join “the show” in a given year. So as the thaw begins and we go into May; the NY Yankees are going to find out if the weather impacted the hitting of some of their key players. We are also going to find out if Colon and Garcia really have what it takes to support a pennant drive or if the cold helped them along the way. We’re going to find out if Derek Jeter has lost a half step and pitchers are taking advantage of his slower bat speed by punching him out on the inside corner. We’re going to find out how happy Jorge really is and will he truely accept his fate coming off the bench and figure it out. The cold has certainly affected his approach at the plate and the need to be loose and confident in the box. We’re going to see if Swish gets back to being Swish – and continuing to energize this team with his bat and his passion. There is no doubt that the cold has hampered his play as well. I still chuckle looking at him in right field with the hoodie on back in the first week of April. We’re going to find out if Ivan Nova will surpass everyone’s expectations in 2011 and win games comparable to the great success Phil Hughes had last year in his first year starting. The cold certainly effected him as well; and he has never played or pitched in the cold like that since he hit the Yankees minor league system. And the last big question remains: is Phil done?
So as we come out of the Great Thaw of 2011 we have quite a few questions that need to be answered. In the past; the upper brass and the scouts could gain a much better feel earlier in the year for where the players are and better predict key outcomes for the season. As a Yankee fan and baseball purist; I have to admit that trying to evaluate the team in April was pretty tough and even though we have some great players that seem to be on the bead; I’m still concerned that when we come out of the thaw we will still have to answer some questions that will certainly upset the Yankee Universe.
In the coming weeks I will be addressing more about our planning; as well as our approach to the diamond, and would like to get the fans to tell me what is on your mind moving forward. So for this initial post I want to ask the readers to please respond and let me know if you think the cold weather has effected the Yankees? How do you think the Yankees will fare going into June? Does this current team have the right make up and personnel – where would you make a change? And last but not least; are you happy with our GM? Does he have his finger on the pulse? Is he doing what it takes to plan in advance and provide us with the best available talent to win NOW?
I believe the month of June will set the table and say it all.
Mike Antoniotti Sr.