I peeked at the American League East standings last week and for a moment I thought they had been printed upside down. Perennial powerhouses in New York and Boston were languishing in fourth and fifth place while Baltimore sat atop the division with Toronto and Tampa jockeying for second place.
Another look this morning shows that things might be normalizing a bit. The Yankees have edged into third, overtaking Toronto. But the Red Sox remain in last and the Orioles still top the East, although just 4.5 games separate the top from the bottom.
So with a questionable starting rotation and injuries to David Robertson, Mariano Rivera, Michael Pineda and Brett Gardner hampering their season so far, just exactly where will the Yankees ultimately end up? We enlisted the assistance of Brandon C., co-manager of Pinstripe Alley, to provide some insight. Here’s what he had to say:
Brushbackpitch: What were your expectations for the Yankees heading into the season and what are they now?
Brandon C: My expectations going into the season were a division win and losing in the AL Division Series. Right now my expectations are the same, considering the Tampa Bay Rays aren’t exactly blowing the Yankees away, and I do not believe the Orioles can keep it up.
Brushbackpitch: How much have the injuries to Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Brett Gardner hurt the team and what are you hearing about timetables for Robertson and Gardner returning?
Brandon: Gardner is a mystery, it seems like every time he tries to come back he fails. He’s such an important part of the Yankees offense considering he creates runs by his legs, and the Yankees could really use those runs. Curtis Granderson has not gotten a day off yet this season because Gardner is hurt. Robertson is such an important part of the bullpen, and should be the closer when he returns.
Brushbackpitch: A look through the stats so far indicates starting pitching has been a problem. What are the team’s options outside of those currently on the roster?
Brandon: There aren’t many options outside of the rotation, and the team shouldn’t need those options anyway. I’m confident the current rotation will figure out their problems.
Brushbackpitch: Was signing Andy Pettitte a desperation move or does he appear to have a year or two of good pitching left?
Brandon: At the time the signing was nothing more than a depth move, actually. Pettitte was available and Cashman couldn’t say no. Now it seems like he is a huge part of the rotation. And the way he has pitched so far he looks like the Pettitte of old.
Brushbackpitch: How would you assess the competition in the AL East at this stage? Particularly with the Orioles and Blue Jays – are they that improved or will they cool off after hot starts?
Brandon: I think the Blue Jays are for real. I said before the season I thought they would be a top three team in the AL East, and I still think they will be. Brandon Morrow has ace potential. I think the Orioles are getting there, but this isn’t their year.
Brushbackpitch: A poll on your site seems to indicate that readers are split on whether the Steinbrenners will sell the team within five years or never — what are your thoughts on rumors that the team might be for sale?
Brandon: I think the Steinbrenner’s won’t sell the team anytime soon, but it would be a wise financial decision.