Friday, April 17, 2009

Early Ups and Downs

The Yankees had their home opener yesterday afternoon and it was ugly. There wasn’t much to cheer about and the new stadium has drawn a great deal of criticism.

The team is currently sitting on a 5-5 record at the moment and that’s about the way I feel about the team and season overall right now. There have been quite a few positives so far this year, but there have been a great deal of negatives as well.

Starting pitching has been a mixed bag. Burnett has looked increadible, Pettitte solid, Chamberlain fine, Sabathia has been shaky and Wang horrible. I’m not worried about Chien Ming Wang, and am confident he’ll turn things around soon. Remember the horrible start Mike Mussina got off too last year before going on to 20 wins? Likewise Sabathia will be the dominant pitcher that we all know he is.

Relief pitching has been a disaster. For a short stretch they were lights out but the bullpen is crippled by Girardi’s poor pen management. The lack of a long man continues to pummel the Yankees. Damasao Marte can’t play in New York. He’s another Latroy Hawkins in that he’s horrible in the Big Apple but will likely be a star the second he leaves. Using him for anything other than a situational lefty against single batters will cost the Yankees dearly. The other lefty, Phil Coke, clearly isn’t ready for the majors yet. Maybe he’ll come around in time but for now he needs to be used in the lowest leverage situations only. A few guys in the minors like Melancon might make their way up and be able to contribute. Maybe Tomko will come back. A trade isn’t out of the question either. I think things will get better, but only if there is change.

The infield is slow coming out of the gates. Texiera is off to his usual slow start despite the fact that he looked on fire in the spring. His wrist injury isn’t helping matters any. Jeter gets older every year with both his defense and offense dipping down further and further. He’s still a solid player, but not the star he used to be. Ransom has been a huge disappointment. I thought he’d be halfway decent this year despite other’s criticism of him but it looks like I was wrong. The pressure got to him at the plate and to say he’s in a slump is putting it mildly. His defense, normally a big strong point, has been terrible. He had one spectacular play yesterday, followed up shortly by an error. Robinson Cano has been unstoppable at the plate. He’s made a few defensive mistakes but he’s really turned this around offensively.

The outfield is doing admirably well. Xavier Nady has been a flop and with his recent elbow injury may have played his last games as a Yankee. Nick Swisher is returning to 2007 form and beyond, looking like an all-star. I’m sure his numbers will return to the realms of mere mortals before long, but hopefully he’ll continue live up to his potential and clueless YES announcers like John Kay will back off with their criticisms of Swisher’s smiling during games. Gardner can be a weapon when he gets on base but unfortunately he hasn’t been doing that enough. I think he’s only a temporary solution at center and will eventually be replaced next season. With Nady’s injury, we might see someone called up or possibly have Melky fill in more often.

The manager won’t be around long. Two embarrassing losses and poor bullpen handling will cost Girardi his job. The possibility of him getting fired before the end of the season are looking pretty good to me right now.

The future still looks good. Wang and Sabathia will settle down. A few minor leaguers will come up to help out the bullpen. Alex Rodriguez will be back soon to provide more offensive pop. The Yankees still have an excellent chance to win the division and the kind of team that can win the World Series this year, but boy, has it looked ugly at times.

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