Its been over a month since the baseball season started, and thus we have a great opportunity to critically review the New York Yankees as they currently stand.
The Yankees added a few new faces over the off season and thus far there's been mixed results.
Centerfielder Curtis Granderson got off to a hot start, before his bat cooled down dramatically (.094 average in last 10 games) and then he got injured (groin strain). Though, some may question this move it is still too early to consider whether it was worth getting rid of AJax for Granderson (see post below). Through today, Grandersons average stands at .225, and his struggles against lefties is still pronounced (.161 average against southpaws with 11 strikeouts and 1 walk). His return from injury should tell us more about him then this first month has.
New DH Nick Johnson has been a walk monster with 24 walks to date, which ties him for first in the majors with Justin Morneau. However, unlike Justin Morneau, Johnson has not been hitting. We hope that his performance against the Orioles yesterday will be the beginning of his break out. He went 3-3 with a homerun and 2 walks, which is an amazing line. To date he's batting .171, but is sporting a .396 on base percentage, which alone is worth keeping him in games.
The last major addition was Javier Vasquez. He's sucked.
So I guess by mixed results, I mean they've all been disappointing, but I do beleive Granderson and Johnson will turn their seasons around, and I beleive that if Vasquez can get his velocity back, he could be a servicable starter. I don't know if that will happen.
Pitching is Key
4 of our 5 starting pitchers have been dominant thus far, and our bullpen has done enough to get us wins. Our top performing starters all have ERA's under 3, and two of them (Burnett and Hughes) are under 2. Mariano has been Mariano (a zero ERA through 9 innings this season), but the placement of Joba back in the bullpen has been a huge difference. He's been able to step up in Mariano's absence and shut down some ball games. He's no Mo, but then again, no one is.
Despite the terrible performances of David Robertson, mediocre performances of Damaso Marte, and the lose of veteran pitcher Chan Ho Park to injury, the bullpen has maintained and has bridged the gap to Mariano.
The offense has been performing, but there are some notable exceptions. Per usual, Mark Teixeira is still straggling through the season with a .178 batting average to date. Alex Rodriguez is at .258 on the season and has 2 homeruns, half the number of Derek Jeter. Some of the encouraging signs have been Robinson Cano's ridiculous offensive output (.362 average, 9 homeruns, and 21 RBI's), and the production from some of the supporting players such as Nick Swisher (.290 average, 5 homeruns, 17 RBI's). Surprisingly, Cano and Jeter are tied for the team lead in RBI's with 21 a piece, which is impressive, and Brett Gardner has been keeping his "singles only" offensive approach to the tune of a .346 batting average and 13 stolen bases (2nd in the majors). He also has a .430 OBP. All in all, the Yankees are scoring runs and thats without the offensive support of two of their biggest players (Teixeira and A-Rod), without the run producing output of their DH (Nick Johnson), and with their centerfielder underperforming and then landing on the DL. That's also with one of our better producing players (Jorge Posada) missing time with a day-to-day injury.
Its too early to tell, but this team is showing a lot of encouraging signs. The recent string of "day-to-day" injuries is concerning, and we'll have to wonder how long we'll be without the consistant production of guys like Posada, Mariano, and Pettitte, but our bench has been more than servicable. Cervelli and Joba have made the temporary absences of Mariano and Posada very bearable for the team. Losing Granderson was not good, but I have to agree that having him have this injury now is preferable then losing him late in the season. Hopefully we won't have to experience both. Thames production of the bench has taken away some of the sting of losing Granderson. Despite their limitations, the Yankees have been winning games, and this series against Boston should tell us a lot about what this team can do.