Friday, July 18, 2008

In response to Michael's All-Star Break recap...

Decided to make a new post so as not to lose the discussion in the comments section. Here's my review of the season to this point:

Obviously its been a disappointing year but coming into it I don't think anyone thought this team was going to run away with the division. The fact that the pitching staff, minus Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Bruney, etc. has carried the team while the hitting has been lackluster is a major surprise.

If they have any chance to make the playoffs they need to get on a roll where the entire lineup clicks, which means (1) they need to get healthy and (2) guys like Jeter, Melky, Abreu, etc. need to pick it up.

MVP: Mussina/Joba/ARod/Mo
LVP: Kennedy/Hughes
Biggest Surprise: Mussina/Ponson/Veras
Best Newcomer: Gardner

Individuals: Working on the assumption that a very good season for most players is .300 BA, .400 OBP, .500 Slugging %, subject to position.

Damon: .319/.387/.470: Solid numbers and has played a decent left field despite his noodle arm. The team plays so much better when he's leading off and hitting well. Need him to get healthy in a hurry.

Jeter: .284/.345/.395: Not hitting for average, not getting on base, not hitting for power. Down year for The Captain but hopefully the All Star break allowed him to rest that ailing wrist so he can return to form the rest of the way. Goes without saying that he needs to be on top of his game for the team to make any kind of run. And I still maintain that he's a defensive liability at SS.

Abreu: .274/.345/.436: Down year for Abreu at the plate. He's still an asset to the team but in a contract year he'll need to do better. He can get hot and carry the lineup for a week or two at a time, but he needs to avoid these 0-22 slumps that he seems to fall into. A guy with his eye at the plate should be immune to those.

A-Rod: .312/.392/.581: Missed a lot of time (20 games) with the hamstring but has still been the team's most productive hitter and has played a very solid third base. The least of our problems.

Giambi: .253/.386/.529: Enjoyed a nice resurgence with the mustache after a dreadful start of the season. Can't throw to save his life but has an adequate glove in the field which has allowed other players like Jorge and Damon to DH when needed. His production is doubly important since when he's on it force pitchers to go at A-Rod.

Posada: .272/.360/.420: His hitting, while not on par with his career year of last season (which was an aberration the size of the Grand Canyon given his age and position) has been ok but since he couldn't throw out my grandmother trying to steal second has made life difficult for Girardi. That contract is looking like a potential albatross right now (as we suspected, but not quite so soon).

Cano: .246/.285/.358: Like Giambi got off to a terrible start but has picked it up of late. Needs to keep that momentum going to have any shot of producing decent numbers at year end. Adequate in the field.

Melky: .241/.301/.347: Still playing a good center field but has regressed at the plate (though his power numbers are better than last year). Hopefully the presence of Gardner fires him up; if not it might be time for Girardi to give someone else a chance. Melky's bat has been a big detriment to the lineup.

Matsui: .323/.404/.458: Not getting a lot of press but his loss has been huge. Just a very consistent, professional hitter that gave Girardi a very deep lineup. If he is indeed out for the season I don't think they can replace his production with anyone not named Barry Bonds (not that I'm advocating such a move).

Others: Betemit (ok for a fill-in thanks to his versatility), Molina (GREAT defense; can't hit a lick), Moeller (filled in admirably), Duncan (lost season -- will we ever see him in pinstripes again? I doubt it.), Gonzalez (showed nice potential as a utility player off the bench with his stellar defense, ability to bunt, and decent speed on the basepaths), Gardner (fastest player I've seen on the Yankees...but it doesn't do anyone any good if he can't get on base. If they were to make the playoffs he'd be a great weapon off the bench since he could make the difference in a close game with his speed.)

Starting Pitchers (ERA under 4, WHIP under 1.30 is what makes a good starter in my book):

Wang: 8-2, 4.07/1.32: Was on a good run until the unfortunate injury. If he can come back and pitch well down the stretch that would be a huge boost to the team. But I wonder if that will be too many teams are still in contention after losing their ace for such an extended period of time?

Pettitte: 10-7, 4.03/1.34: Has been great at times and horrible at times. Still lights out when his cutter is working. Still has plenty left in the tank, and I feel most at ease when he is on the mound than with any other Yankee starter.

Moose: 11-6, 3.61/1.23: What a comeback! I thought for sure he'd be done after this season, and earlier this year when he was giving up one HR after another to Manny I was ready to give up on him. But to his credit he's finally changed his style and the results have been great. Just hoping he can keep it up. Should have been on the All-Star team in my opinion.

Hughes: 0-4, 9.00/2.14
Kennedy: 0-3, 7.41/1.75

Those atrocious numbers, combined with those of Melky, are going to be what costs Cashman his job after the Yanks miss out on the playoffs this year and Santana leads the Mets to a division title. Not saying the decision was right or wrong, but what a terrible disappointment. Still hopeful that down the road all three become stalwarts of a championship team.

Joba: 2-3, 2.62/1.32: Best stuff on the team. Has handled the switch to the rotation very well. Just needs to try to keep his pitch count down so he can go deeper into ballgames. IP stands at 65, and with just 67 games remaining that means something like 13 starts. At an average of 6 IP per start, that would put him at 143 innings for the season. Long story short -- they ain't shutting him down until the season is over.

Ponson: Not crazy about the guy but he's put the team in a position to win games and that's more than you can ask for a mid-season acquisition like that.

Rasner: Started off hot but has since been exposed as the prototypical AAAA pitcher...too good for AAA, not good enough for the majors.

Rivera: 4-3, 1.06/0.64: Beyond words at this point, he is further adding to his legacy as the greatest closer of all time. 23 for 23 in save opportunities. A picture of excellence, and we should all be grateful for being able to watch one of the game's true legends.

Farnsworth: 1-2, 3.51/1.34: Has been OK, which is better than most expected. Can't complain about him when you look at the next guy...

Hawkins: 1-1, 5.79/1.47: An absolute disaster. Get rid of him...

Veras: 2-1, 2.87/1.12: The breakout star of the bullpen since Joba went to the rotation. Has solidified the back-end options for Girardi.

Other relievers:
Britton (good stuff; needs experience), Bruney (could be back soon which would be a nice addition to a solid 'pen), Robertson (fantastic in short time up...could be a fixture in the 7th/8th inning for years to come), Giese (nice fill-in but not sure he has the ability to be a long term contributor), Ramirez (great at times and equally awful when he can't get his changeup over the plate for strikes. Scares me a little in close games because of that.), Albaladejo (good stuff, unfortunate injury), Traber (Really? That's the best lefty they could find?), Ohlendorf (Huge disappointment; hopefully he can get back on track in the minors), Igawa (An absolute train wreck. Worst signing ever.)

All in all its been a mixed season. I'd give Girardi mostly positive marks, but I can't say he's exceeded all expectations by any means. The bottom line is this team was built to win now and I don't think anyone wants Yankee Stadium to end with a regular season game. Let's hope the team can rattle off a Mets-like double digit winning streak to get back into the thick of things before going on their typical September surge. Will it be too little, too late? I fear that may be the case...they can certainly catch the D-Rays but the Red Sox are a better team at the moment. The wild card is the best option but there is a lot of competition from the Rays, Twins, A's, etc. Don't forget the Tigers either...they are just as capable of going on a long winning streak despite their rotation being decimated by injuries.

In summation -- I think they need to win somewhere around 92 games to make the playoffs, which would mean going 42-25 the rest of the way...certainly a reasonable expectation if they can get/stay healthy and if a few breaks go their way...but a far cry from their performance to this point.

1 comment:

Michael in New York said...

I agree that Matsui has been missed much more than people appreciate -- especially with a resurgent Damon out of the lineup.