The New York Yankees are scuffling. They have lost 6 of their past 8 game and have found every way possible to lose a ballgame in that stretch. Sunday it was an old reliable in ace C.C. Sabathia that managed to turn what should have been a solid win into another gut wrenching loss.
Sabathia was dealing a shutout through 6 innings against the overrated Cincinnati Reds. Raul Ibanez stroked a 2 run homer off Johnny Cueto in the bottom of the 6th and it looked like game over. C.C. would then completely fall off the tracks giving up 2 solo homers and walking 3 in the top of the 7th. His 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit that would become a 5-2 loss. It was Sabathia’s 2nd consecutive loss in as many starts. The most disturbing part was he seemingly took his foot of the perverbial gas after the Ibanez homer and got burned. Aces are supposed to stop losing streaks and the “Big Fella” could not get it done on this day.
Everyone in the Yankee Universe knows C.C. is not the issue with this team. I suspect he won’t be until late in the term of his recently signed contract extension. The biggest problem among the countless this ballclub has right now is its inability to hit in the clutch. That problem is manifested by the teams over-reliance on the homerun and the obsession with pulling the ball. That pull crazy approach is thanks in large part to the short right field porch in Yankee stadium. To put that into perspective New York is a dreadful 6 for its last 59 with runners in scoring position. Someone should pay for these issues at the plate and unfortunately it can’t be the overpaid, untradable players. Hitting Coach Kevin Long is the guy who should be relieved of his duties immediately if this team is going to turn things around. It is his hitting philosophy that has this team spiraling toward last place.
I am not a stat guy. I am old school in my studying of baseball. The Yankee hitters have failed the “eye” test since Long became hitting instructor in 2007. Yes they have been strong statistically in all of those seasons, but who cares? Beating the Royals 16 to 4 in a regular season game in June when they start a journeyman like Bruce Chen is no big accomplishment. The Yankees are supposed to succeed in the playoffs in big, pressure situations. Remember 2007 against Cleveland? How about 2010 against Texas, or last year against Detroit? New York couldn’t buy a hit in the clutch in any of those series. Sure they won a World Series in 2009 but it was because A Rod went all Michael Jordan and carried the team on his back offensively. Something sure is amiss and it seems to be based on Long’s preachings.
If failures in the playoffs don’t sell you on whacking Long how about looking at the roster? Other than Curtis Granderson what Yankee hitter has improved? Brett Gardner? Maybe? I tend to believe that despite his improvements Granderson strikes out way too much thanks to Long’s pulling obsession. Do you remember when Mark Teixeira was actually a good hitter? His average has gone down every year since signing with the Yankees in 2009, and currently sits at a lousy .226. Tex refuses to adjust to the shift many managers play against him while batting left handed. What has been the constant in this equation? Kevin Long. Have you ever seen Robinson Cano roll over as many balls as he has this year despite hitting .309? It’s because he tries to pull every thing now. Even Derek Jeter needed to work with Gary Denbo during his slump last year before notching his 3000th hit. Long couldn’t straighten him out. A Rod claims to love Long but maybe he shouldn’t as he hasn’t homered in 3 weeks. Russell Martin is simply an embarrassment at the plate batting .168. How the hell does a hitting coach keep his job with results like this?
I know it is cliche but this guy has to go. You can’t fire the players on a veteran team with a $200 million payroll. The players are much too attached to Kevin Long. He has become an enabler for bad offensive habits. A new hitting coach needs to come in and get this team back to basics like hitting the ball up the middle and hitting behind runners. Sure Gardner will come off the DL in a few weeks and everything will click offensivley at some point this year. It has to because there is too much talent there. If Kevin Long is still the hitting coach will it last?
About the Author
Written by Brendan Sennott
I was born in the heart of the AL East in the late 70's and am a huge Yankees fan. (Don't hate) I have moved around to a lot of solid baseball markets in my life(Boston, Chicago, Detroit) and was a part-time reporter, producer, blogger, and on air personality for WDFN Radio Sportsradio 1130 The Fan in Detroit. I still live in the "D" and am married with one beautiful 9 month old daughter. My girls are my life. In my media career I've interviewed players, managers and executives in the sport and would love to get back in the business full time. Baseball is my passion. I look forward to shooting straight about the Yanks and M.L.B in my new blog and getting your feedback.