The news would have been devastating to any other club. Before the 2013 campaign was underway, the Yankees learned that they would be opening the regular season without four of their biggest stars: Derek Jeter, Mark Texeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez. When I heard the news myself, I braced myself for a last place finish and adopted a "wait 'til next year" attitude. I had forgotten how resourceful the guys in the front office are.
In addition to spending multi-millions on marquee players, the Yankees reach into the major league grab-bag every year hoping to pull out a few useful party favors. This formula has worked out pretty well for them in the recent past as Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones--all on the downside of their careers--helped carry the team for periods of time. This year's crop of has-beens looked pretty suspect on paper, however, and I was less than enthusiastic about it.
Kevin Youkilis had been dumped by Boston in 2012 when he got off to a .233 start in 42 games. Travis Hafner, a major producer for the Indians from 2004-2007, had fizzled out since then, managing an anemic .228 batting average in 66 games last year. Vernon Wells was a .221 hitter during his two seasons with the Angles and Lyle Overbay? Gimme a break--The guy was demoted to the minors last season!
Imagine my surprise when each of the aforementioned players far exceeded my expectations.
At the end of play on May 18th, Wells was hitting .286 with 10 homers and 23 RBI's. Hafner was at .260 with 7 homers and 20 ribbies. Overbay, who hadn't seen full-time action since 2011, was second only to Robinson Cano in the RBI department. And Youkilis, though shelved with a back injury at the beginning of May, had been consistently hitting in the clutch. The Yankees themselves are currently sitting on top of the AL East and, with their missing superstars due to return in the coming months, things can only get better, right?
Andy Pettitte was recently placed on the DL. This is a harsh blow since the starting pitching is thin already. It will be interesting to see if those front office guys have any magic bullets left in their gun.