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June 5, 2005

by SG

If you want to know one of the reasons the Yankees have floundered despite a $200 million payroll this year, the three decimals above give some insight into it.

Aside from first base, left field is the biggest offensive position in baseball. The three numbers above are the batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage of the starting left fielder of the team with highest payroll in baseball. In addition, this is the player who has batted second or first in the lineup for a good part of the season, ensuring that this player will get more plate appearances than Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez, among others.

I know that some people get annoyed when we gripe about Tony Womack, so you can go ahead and skip this. Again, my issue is not with Womack himself, who seems like a hard-working guy and a good guy. My issue is with the front office that thought he would be a solution to a hole at second base, expecting a repeat of a career year that was far out of line from his past history, and occurred at age 34, making the odds of a repeat that much more unlikely.

Womack is not the biggest problem on this team, far from it. However, he is emblematic of a flawed plan when this team was put together. That it took the Yankees a month to realize that Bernie Williams was not capable of playing CF any more, when it was painfully obvious to almost everyone else over the last two years that this was the case, makes me wonder what the decision makers on this team were thinking when they went into the offseason.

I certainly don't think I am smarter than most front office personnel in baseball, and I realize that there is a ton of information that is used when making decisions that we as outsiders are not privvy to, but when what looked like a series of ridiculously stupid events at the time ends up turning out the way many people predicted, what conclusion are we supposed to reach?

The beauty of this clusterf*** of a team is that George Steinbrenner is holding Brian Cashman and Joe Torre responsible for it, and they are not the ones who put a lot of this team together. Torre has not made good use of some of his personnel, but with the bench and roster he's been dealt it's not clear to me what he could be doing that much differently. Sure, the lineup order is not optimal, but when a .580 OPS is your best option in LF, you've been dealt a shitty hand.

I don't know where this team goes from here. I honestly don't see how they finish this road trip above .500. And when Jaret Wright makes his return, the Yankees will reward Tiger Wang with a trip back to minors, even though he's probably been their most consistent starter over the last 6 weeks. Is this how a team with a plan operates?

With the player acquisition model in place, it was likely only a matter of time before the Yankees began declining. What's aggravating to me is that with a few more astute moves over the last few years, a lot of this could've been avoided. I'll still watch all the games, I'll hope like hell that they start playing better, but I don't expect this team to make the postseason at this point. Their holes are just too big.