Going into Tuesday night's contest against the Twins, the Yankees stood at second place in the AL East with a 26-18 record, tied for second best in the American League. Not bad for a team that has faced the amount and severity of injuries that New York has incurred this season.
But despite the extensive disabled list, there are two healthy players that have seemingly yet to show up for the 2010 season. And that begs the real and most pertinent question about the Yankees this season: where are Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira?
Every baseball fan has heard of Teixeira's notoriously bad Aprils. Its an axiom Yankees fans have come to accept. But April is long gone and the New York first baseman is holding his average just over the Mendoza line. Following him, Rodriguez and his .860 OPS haven't contributed much more to the offensive attack. Combined, the Yankees 3-4 hitters are batting only .254, bad enough for sixth worst in the MLB behind only the Cubs, Astros, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and White Sox. And the two sluggers have hit a total of 13 home runs, one fewer than Paul Konerko and Jose Bautista have each hit by themselves. Not good when a team has other positions populated by the likes of Juan Miranda and Kevin Russo.
To this point, the Yankees have maintained their success due mostly to their stellar starting pitching. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes have been four of the best pitchers in baseball up this point, giving the Yankees perhaps the best rotation in all of baseball. To supplement their performances, New York has seen offensive production from unlikely or inconsistent places like Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli but even the casual baseball fan can surmise that contributions such as these don't last and most definitely don't win championships.
Its May 25 and it's time that the Yankees' highest paid and most prolific sluggers kick it into gear. It may be early in the season, but at a time when the Yankees have needed them the most, Rodriguez and Teixeira have been totally ineffective and absent. And if the Tampa Bay Rays continue to win at nearly even close to the clip that they are currently achieving, New York may have to set its sights on the Wild Card and hope that Dontrelle Willis doesn't keep throwing strikes.
History dictates that both of these players will eventually hit their stride and, in turn, begin to hit the baseball. But in the meantime, the Yankees are losing ball games and falling further behind the Rays in the standings, regardless of their impressive record. Good pitching can take a team only so far. Eventually the key players in the lineup must produce. And that time has more than come for Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.