Mayday in May for the Yankees

I can’t stand when the Yankees have days off. I hate is so much that I look at the schedule in advance to find the stretches during the season in which they play the most consecutive games. This last stretch lasted 17 games, but after a 7-10 record, and watching a chance to be in first place fade to six games back in the East, I have never been so ecstatic to see an off-day on the calendar for Monday.

I love the Subway Series, and it always bothered me when Joe Torre would downplay its importance or the importance of a Yankees-Red Sox series for that matter. I understand that there was always great pressure from George for Torre and the Yankees to beat the Mets, but the Subway Series is great for the city, for the fans and for baseball. It’s outcome over the weekend created dangerously high levels for my blood pressure, and the Yankees’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position nearly cost me another Blackberry and television remote, but hey, that’s what the Subway Series is about.

If you’re a Yankees fan, you now get to listen to the Mets gloat until Round 2 of the Subway Series, or until they endure another five-game losing streak, whichever happens first (it will probably be the latter). But if you’re a Yankees fan, you shouldn’t be concerned with the second-class citizens of the city. I’m not. I’m concerned with the state of the Yankees, which has elevated to a Code Orange on the Yankees’ Homeland Security advisory system. A bad finish to the month of May and I will be in full-blown panic mode.

Yes, it’s May. Yes, the bottom of the order looks like something you would see in the eighth inning of a spring training game. But June is just a week away, and after starting the season 11-3, the Yankees have gone 15-15, and that scares me. This is the most necessary off-day I can remember in recent years. It gives the Yankees a day with no game in a time without Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson, and it lets them recoup and reevaluate their current position, which is currently six games back of the relentless Rays.

After this debacle, which has now lasted 30 games, it’s time to answer some very important questions. I wish Michael Kay would let me host The Joe Girardi Show for one week. I actually wouldn’t even need a week, I would just need about five minutes to ask Joe one-on-one about some things that are on my mind and having a negative impact on my life. After cutting the list of questions down from 217, I have narrowed it down to five questions I would ask the Yankees skipper if I were allowed to host this week’s edition of The Joe Girardi Show.

Why did you protest the game against the Red Sox?
The Yankees’ week went downhill right after Joe Girardi protested a game in which the Yankees had a 5-0 lead. After Girardi made a stink about Manny Delcarmen getting some extra warm-up pitches because of Josh Beckett being pulled for a sketchy injury, the week spiraled out of control. It was as if the Baseball Gods said, “Come on Joe, enough is enough” and then struck the Yankees with a string of bad luck and five losses in six games to the Red Sox, Rays and Mets.

The Yankees didn’t lose a 5-0 lead to the Red Sox because Manny Delcarmen got to warmup a little longer. They lost because they weren’t able to take advantage of Manny Delcarmen coming into a game, and because Joba Chamberlain decided May 18 was a good day to give David Ortiz’s season and career some CPR. Marcus Thames’ error and Joe Girardi’s decision to bunt Francisco Cervelli in the ninth inning against Jonathan Papelbon didn’t exactly help matters.

There was no need to try and resort to some loophole in the rulebook to hang on against what was a dying Red Sox team when you just needed to get six outs before giving up four runs. Come on Joe, you’re better than that.

Why is Brett Gardner hitting second?
A week ago Gardner was hitting .323. Today his average is down to .294 after going 6-for-30 since then. If you could buy stock in Brett Gardner, and you did, the phone would be ringing off the hook right now to SELL, SELL, SELL! Gardner’s stock is falling faster than Bluestar at the end of Wall Street and I can’t remember the last time an analyst said something positive about his play.

The best thing (maybe we are now seeing the only thing) about Gardner’s game is his speed, and Joe Girardi won’t let Gardner use that speed hitting ahead of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez because you know, Tex and A-Rod have been such RBI threats. Gardner’s last stolen base came on May 15 against the Twins despite being on base 11 times since then. Gardner needs to run when he is on base, and if General Joe is worried about making an out on the bases with Tex and A-Rod up then let Nick Swisher hit second. Mark Teixeira has been an automatic out hitting third all year. There is no reason to also have one in the two-hole.

Why does Randy Winn play, ever?
I’m not Kevin Long, but I’m pretty sure when you’re hitting, your back foot isn’t supposed to do whatever Randy Winn’s back foot is doing when he is in the box. Winn has become the easiest out in a Yankee lineup since Jose Molina, but at least Molina played great defense. I’m not sure what it is exactly that Randy Winn still does well as a major league. Whatever it is, it must be in the clubhouse and behind the scenes because in the batter’s box and on the field, he is tough on the eyes.

I understand that Randy Winn is a proven commodity and he has played 13 years in the league, but I also understand that you can’t play this game forever and I think Father Time is doing his best to make that clear to Joe Girardi. I also understand that the Yankees’ roster is depleted with injuries and they need any body they can find right now. So what’s wrong with Kevin Russo? The kid is a local product (West Babylon, NY), he is hungry for a chance to prove himself at this level and he actually has quality at-bats. I can’t think of one thing that Randy Winn does better than him other than swing and miss at dead-red fastballs frequently.

When the Yankees signed Winn, everyone said his two home runs and .262 average with the Giants last season was just a down year. I think it was the beginning of the end. Brian Cashman actually said that he couldn’t believe that he was able to sign Winn for $1.1 million. I’m pretty sure we know why he was able to now.

Do you hate Marcus Thames?
I have tried to make sense out of how Joe Girardi uses Marcus Thames, and the only conclusion I could come to is that he hates him. Either that or he doesn’t see what the rest of us are seeing when it comes to Marcus Thames.

There are three things I know about Marcus Thames: 1. He tries to hit a home run every at-bat. 2. He is the worst outfielder since Melky Cabrera’s Fenway Park debut. 3. He crushes left-handed pitching, but he can also hit righties.

Whenever there is a righty on the mound, Girardi opts for Randy Winn to start over Thames. Joe might give over managing a new meaning, and he certainly gets a high off lefty-righty matchups and double switches, but I don’t care what hand a pitcher uses to throw a baseball, Randy Winn is never a better option over Marcus Thames. And whenever Joe has a chance to use Thames as the DH or an outfielder, he chooses outfielder. There have already been three games Thames has cost the Yankees this season because of his fielding abilities, and it’s a guarantee there will be a fourth if Girardi lets there be.

In the middle of a Yankees comeback in Game 2 of the Subway Series, Girardi sent Thames to the plate to face the lefty Pedro Feliciano with the bases loaded and no one out. But when Jerry Manuel made the move to bring in the right-handed Fernando Nieve, Girardi called Thames back and sent up the left-handed Juan Miranda. The move took Thames out of the game without ever seeing a pitch, and also sent up a lesser hitter to the plate just because he was a lefty facing a righty. And to no one’s surprise, Miranda struck out. I’m not saying Thames wouldn’t have also struck out, but I do know he gave the Yankees a better chance to get them back in the game and possibly tie the game with one swing.

Why is Boone Logan on the team?
This question might be better suited for Robert Stack and the crew at Unsolved Mysteries. I have yet to find someone who can justify Logan’s spot on the 25-man roster, and I have also been unable to find someone who thinks he belongs on the roster or on the team with the highest payroll in the league or in Major League Baseball period. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a better arm in Triple-A, Double-A, Single-A, some independent league, or some 14-and-under league capable of doing a better job than Boone Logan has done so far. We don’t have to go over his stats again here, all I need to say is that he has been on the team for 38 days (Yes, I’m counting) and he has yet to pitch a 1-2-3 inning in a game the Yankees have won. I won’t stop with Boone Logan until he is on I-80 back to Pennsylvania.