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May 9, 2005

The best laid plans
by Larry Mahnken

If I can say that I've learned one thing over the past year, it's that the old saying, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry" is true. For myself, at least, plans have best served to alleviate distress about the future. If I have a plan, I won't worry about it so much. But rarely do those plans work out as I had hoped.

It's happening a bit like that for the Yankees this season, but the big difference is that the Yankees didn't do a particularly good job of planning. To be sure, they've gotten off to this dreadful start because almost everything has gone wrong, but that's largely a result of planning. The team they put together carried with it an enormous amount of risk, and it's hard for anyone to honestly say that they're surprised at anything that has gone wrong so far. It was all part of the assumed risk the team was taking when they put together this team, and so far they're paying for it.

Of course it's only May, and not very far into May at that. There's plenty of time for things to turn around, and this team has more than enough upside to make up for the terrible start. They can still make the playoffs, they can still win the division. Nothing is lost yet.

But when you look at your team and see Tony Womack in left field, the only good thing you can say about that is that at least Robinson Cano is getting a chance. Tony Womack may have played the outfield in the past, and his glove may be acceptable out there, but his bat is poor enough for a second baseman, where you're used to giving up offense. It's putrid for a left fielder, where you're supposed to have a big hitter. And the only reason he's out there is that the Yankees failed to forsee a painfully obvious fact: Bernie Williams can't play centerfield. What many had realized in 2002, and had become painfully obvious in 2003, didn't strike the Yankees as a problem until early 2005. Now they're left with a second baseman in left, and a weak-hitting DH on a team with too many weak-hitting DH's to begin with. This isn't a problem that should have surprised anyone.

I think the Yanks will get back into things, I'm frustrated as hell but not panicking. I'll be keeping an... ear on them (I can only follow on the radio now), and I'll be back to comment later, though I don't know when. My plans haven't quite gone the direction I expected, either. Once again, I'm off the radar screen, see ya around.

- Larry