The Dog Days of September?
Typically, it happens to be the Dog Days of August, but the Yankees are really experiencing that now in September. Let’s take a look at the current injury status of the Yankees:
— Nick Swisher has been suffering from some pain in his left elbow (tendinitis). An MRI was taken, luckily revealing no structural damage. Swisher said he left a sharp pain when throwing. He did play first base in last night’s game, but throwing is still painful for him. Tendinitis in the elbow is no fun injury by any means and the last thing anyone wants to happen is for him to start throwing through the pain, and it gets worse. Temporary replacement: Andruw Jones. With Jones taking over for Swisher in right field for several games, they luckily have some right-handed bat named Montero who can DH in Jones’ place.
— Alex Rodriguez’ left thumb has been so sore that he doesn’t feel he can be as productive as possible. Like Swisher, he should be sidelined for several more days. Temporary replacement: Eric Chavez / Eduardo Nunez.
— Russell Martin has a right thumb contusion after a foul tip Saturday night. Girardi hopes to have Martin back by tonight’s game versus Seattle, but that is not close to a sure thing. Temporary replacement: Jesus Montero / Austin Romine / Jorge Posada. Big time minor leaguer fans can’t have a much better situation now. The Yankees catchers right now consist of Montero and Romine? Nice. It’ll be good to have Martin back, though. His influence on the pitching staff is dramatic as Jamie wrote about here.
— Francisco Cervelli, who would presumably be the replacement of Martin except that he has been having concussion symptoms of late. Truth is, no one really knows when he’ll be back. He is important, as C.C. Sabathia has developed quite the pitcher-catcher relationship with Cerv.
Effect on the Bench
You look at the lineup that results from these injuries, and it’s not overly bad. However the real effect is in the bench. Instead of having Chavez, Nunez, and Jones off the bench, you now have a combination of Ramiro Pena, Chris Dickerson, and Greg Golson. Although Dickerson was quite productive for the Yanks last night, you can’t expect the same level of production from him as Jones or Swisher. That’s quite a difference of bench “quality”.
All these injuries may look horrendous, but all things are not that bad. The 1-5 is still solid with Gardner, Jeter, Grandy, Teixeira, and Cano. Then, Jones, Montero, Posada, and Chavez/Nunez fill in the final 4 spots. They have won games with a lot lesser a lineup. In addition, these injuries are all day-to-day’s, meaning we’re not going to go a long time without A-Rod or Swisher or Martin in the lineup. They’ll be back soon enough. It helps that the Yanks have taken a pretty good lead over the Red Sox in the AL East.
Overall, you can look at the injuries above and get very apprehensive about the rest of the Yankees’ season…but not to worry. The Yanks have a reasonable lead atop the AL East, and the starting lineup isn’t too much worse than before. The team just has to work through the injuries and win as many games as they possibly can while Martin, Swisher, and A-Rod are out. Once those three come back, the great depth they have had will return.