It’s May 10 and MLB isn’t even 40 games in yet, but somehow the New York Yankees find themselves in 1st place in the American League East. Just a few percentage points above the rival Boston Red Sox, the Yankees’ current standing could change in a day. It could change drastically with just a handful of unfortunate games, as the 4th place Tampa Bay Rays are only 4.5 games behind them. The 3rd place Baltimore Orioles are only half a game out of first.
Yes, there’s over 100 games left in the season and anything can happen. However, what if I told you that core players like Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Joba Chamberlain and Ivan Nova would all spend time on the DL? What if I told you that the Yankees would have to play the majority of their games to date, without these core players? Could you envision this scenario leading to 1st place in the AL East ?
So how did they do it? First off, manager Joe Girardi has done an amazing job of decision making and putting the remaining personnel into the right places. GM Brian Cashman has lucked out with the performances of players like John Olerud, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner, who all have joined second baseman Robinson Cano to inject power into the line up. Kideki Kuroda and his 2.30 earned run average has been the most solid starter on the pitching staff. Mariano Rivera has been Mariano Rivera and has 13 saves out of 13 save opportunities.
Granderson, Youkilis, Nova and Chamberlain should be back any day now and the team should be back to full strength by the All Star break. That’s when the early season contributors will turn into the depth that should push the team into the postseason. I know there are many Yankee haters and they saw this recent outbreak of injuries as the fall of the evil empire. But for the time being Girardi has turned the injury lemons into first place lemonade.
Follow him on twitter @tonyphintalk