Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

August 20, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

Because the New York Yankees franchise has had such a ridiculous amount of success in the past, and particularly because they've been so successful in the past decade, the Yankees are held to a higher standard. 2001 was a bad year, 2002 a humiliation. Winning is not good enough in and of itself, to recieve credit in New York, you have to win titles. It's not fair, but that's the way it is.

In holding the Yankees to such a high standard, they are often looked at in terms of what's wrong with the team, rather than what's right with the team. I am guilty of focusing on the negative like this, but it's not because I hold the Yankees to a ridiculously high standard, but because I'm naturally pessimistic. It is undeniable that the current Yankees squad is flawed. Right Field was a black hole from May through July, and although Karim Garcia has been brilliant in less than 80 PAs, it is less than 80 PAs, and he's likely to revert to his mediocre self. Robin Ventura was mired in a slump for two months before the Yankees replaced him, and his replacement, Aaron Boone, has played at a level that would get him cut by the Tigers. The bullpen was rebulit in the offseason, and proceeded to implode in the first months. Through several trades the Yankees have reorganized their pen, but the new and improved version has struggled as well. Mariano Rivera, obviously fatigued from being overused by Joe Torre, has had recent struggles as well. Alfonso Soriano continues to bat leadoff, despite being about the least suited player in baseball to bat leadoff, and his free swinging ways have caught up to him, as his OPS has dropped into the low .800's. Jeff Weaver has struggled, David Wells has a bad back. Derek Jeter's defense continues to regress, as does Bernie Williams's.

But despite all this, the Yankees have the best record in the American League. They're on a pace to win over 100 games, and have a 6½ game lead over the Red Sox, 7 in the loss column. Barring an unlikely collapse by the Yankees, an epic hot streak by the Sox, or a double sweep by Boston in their last two series, the Yankees are likely assured of winning of their sixth straight AL East title. Mike Mussina's pitching has been fantastic this season, as has Roger Clemens. Andy Pettitte has had struggles with consistency, but Bad Andy hasn't shown very often in the past two months. Despite his struggles, Mariano Rivera is still having one of his best seasons, and the bullpen likely has enough talent to help in the postseason. Derek Jeter has become a dangerous hitter again, getting on base at nearly a .400 clip in front of Jason Giambi, the best hitter the Yankees have had since Mickey Mantle, and the best hitter in the American League. Jorge Posada has shaken Jason Varitek and established himself as the best catcher in the American League, and perhaps the best in baseball. Nick Johnson has been every bit as good as advertised, and is already one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball. If the division lead gets to ten games, the Yankees might want to start trying him out in the outfield, just in case they make it to the World Series.

And they have a great shot to do that. Every team is flawed, except the '98 Yankees. And there's the problem, the 2003 Yankees are being measured against a legend, and they don't measure up. But compared to the rest of MLB this year, they measure up fine. This Yankees team can't look forward to any likely postseason series and see a cakewalk, but there is also no opponent out there that they should feel lucky to beat, they can beat all of them--and in most cases, should beat them. It's not a level that management should be satisfied to stay at, but it is one that their fans should be thrilled to be at. Don't let what you want spoil your enjoyment of what you have, because it's not always going to be this way. Boston may be fading right now, but they'll be back, as will the Blue Jays.

So go ahead and complain about Aaron Boone and his bat full of suck, or Alfonso Soriano and his bat full of hack. Tear your hair out over Jeff Weaver, and throw furniture over Derek Jeter's range. Bitch and moan all you want, but at the end of the day, look at the standings, and appreciate it.

We are Yankees fans. We are the luckiest fans in the world.

But suck, Boone.