Monday, August 30, 2004

Yankees Week In Review: August 23-29

After the Yanks flunked last week, they were much improved in the last full week of August, going 5-2 against the Indians and Blue Jays. It was a good performance, coming against one team that had made a mad dash at respectability, only to fall back into a rut just prior to facing the Bombers (that would be Cleveland) and one team with absolutely no pitching, and far less offense than anyone expected, pre-season (that would be Toronto).

The Yanks' offense posted a .310/.403/.552 week, scoring just over 7 runs per game. That number is skewed, however, by the 18-6 riot in Toronto Saturday night. As you'd imagine, lots of guys put up great performances last week: A-Rod, fueled by his four-hit Saturday, hit .406 for the week, with 2 homers and 5 RBI; Jeter, Sheffield, and Posada each had a multi-homer week with 1.000+ OPS. But the most outstanding performance belongs to parttime player extraordinaire Tony Clark, leading the team with four homers and seven RBI for the week. Mind you, three of those homers and five of those RBI came in one game.

On the downside of the offense? Miguel Cairo hit .188/.188/.250 last week, and if he keeps it up, he might wind up giving Enrique Wilson a full-time job. I'd kind of hoped that the Yankees might get reinforcements at the keystone through a waiver-trade. The person I thought was a dark-horse candidate for pinstripes, Jeff Kent, has slid back into longshot contention for the NL wildcard.

Of course, I should be smacked for thinking about upgrading the offense when the team's pitching presents so many questions. The pitchers had a middling week, 5.02 ERA and 82 baserunners allowed in 61 innings. The top performer was Mariano Rivera, who threw four games, got four saves, and rung up four strikeouts. He didn't allow a run. Aside from Rivera and Orlando Hernandez (a quality start in the Yanks' loss to Cleveland) no-one was terribly impressive.

Least impressive were Esteban Loaiza and Mike Mussina. The Moose posted a 6.35 ERA in two starts last week, getting tagged with Sunday's loss. Loaiza pitched himself out of the rotation in his one start this week, giving up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, good for an 8.31 ERA. Also disappointing last week was Tom Gordon, who posted a 6.23 ERA, blowing the lead in two out of the four games he appeared last week (he did, however, pitch well in the other two games, getting a win and a save).

Stories of the week:

  • Loaiza to the pen. Least surprising development of the week. The upside hope is that he could be one of those guys that you tell "Just go at it as hard as you can for 25 pitches," and they do it and are effective. (Why do I say this? Because that cut fastball repertoire seems well-suited for relief) The downside is he winds up like Jeff Weaver. Hideki Irabu. Jose Contreras. Guys that sucked out of the pen, because I don't think Mel Stottlemyre ever gives out that "25 pitches" advice. The problem with that is you wind up with a pitcher in Limbo -- he makes too much money not to use him, but there's no role (other than blowout mop-up guy) for him. Means there's no hope that he's going to work his way out of a slump, and yet he's still waiting there, on the roster, to be used and fail at the worst possible moment.

We already have a fellow like that, name of Sturtze, ever hear of him?

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