Monday, June 05, 2006

Week in Review: May 29-June 4, 2006

Record for the Week: 5-2, 35 runs allowed, 43 runs scored
Overall Record: 33-22 (2nd Place, half a game out)

Player of the Week: Jason Giambi recovered from his May doldrums with a .348/.400/.826 performance, and three homers on the week. Randy Johnson delivered two good starts on Monday and Saturday for a 2.57 ERA on the week, bettered by Mike Mussina's single unearned run in Wednesday's complete game effort. But the player of the week is the guy who took Giambi's place in the field, and hit an astounding .462/.448/.731 [wait for it...] Andy Phillips. After relentlessly pimping someone for years, it's nice when they give you a week like this, where the hits just kept falling. Phillips even got to play a little third base on Sunday, which should remind Joe Torre that Miguel Cairo is not the only guy on the roster capable of playing multiple infield positions.

Dregs of the Week: Introducing the not-ready-for-prime-time players, Terrence Long! (.105/.227/.158 in 22 PA) Scott Erickson! (13.50 ERA in 4 relief innings) and Aaron Small! (0-1, 11.74 ERA in two starts, seven and two thirds innings pitched)

Seriously, folks, these three guys have got to go, be it to the minors, or back to the waiver wire from whence they came. T-Long does not b-long in pinstripes. I've never really understood Erickson's appeal to so many teams--part of it, I guess, is that he looks like a ballplayer. I don't believe it's anyone's business to tell Erickson when to hang up his spikes--if I had what it took to play major league baseball, I'd make them drag me off the field forcibly, my fingers digging undignified trenches into the sod. But that doesn't mean that anyone should give him a job when he just can't get anyone out, anymore.

Small's being on this list hurts. His was a true Cinderella story--undefeated, humble minor league pitcher earning the minimum on the highest payroll team ever, and whatnot. But the thing is, in sports, the Cinderella stories almost never end with "Happily Ever After." The guy who was so heart-warming in victory almost always comes back until he gets defeated, because you just can't quit when you're ahead.

Maybe Aaron Small has some reason for pitching badly. Maybe the pitcher he was last year is still somewhere within him. But if so, he should go down to the minors and prove it there, rather than mess about in the Yankees' pennant race.

Miscellaneous Stats: the C/P ratio stands at 24/29 on the week, overall 76/83. I've already gushed enough about Andy's performance in the past week, and what it could mean for his playing time. Cairo picked up a lot of playing time last week due to injuries to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez that aren't expected to be long-term. Miguel's performance in this extended opportunity was less than stellar: .217/.250/.261. Once both A-Rod and the Captain are healthy, Cairo's playing time should go back to more normal levels, while Phillips could be securing himself extensive playing time for the duration of Gary Sheffield's injury, which could mean the rest of the season.

Story of the Week: The Yanks faced one of the toughest teams in the league last week, the best-record holding Detroit Tigers, on the road, and won the series decisively, after doing the same the week before in Boston. In the interim, the Yanks delivered beatdowns to their other opponents, the horrible Kansas City Royals at home and the mediocre Baltimore Orioles on the road, taking two out of three from each opponent. That's nice, specially when we consider that this is all happening at a time when the Yanks are positively ravaged by injuries.

Despite the wonderful results this week and the week before, the Yanks' injuries mean that the team's margin of error keeps getting smaller. The key now is to restock, and to identify the pieces that aren't working and remove them from the roster. In the dregs section, there are some pointed suggestions about omissions. Down in extended spring training, there are once-proven major league parts rehabbing for a chance to contribute down the stretch. Tomorrow, the Yanks have the chance to help themselves in the amateur draft, and they might find an opportunity to grab a Huston Street-type arm, which'll be ready for the bigs sooner rather than later. Home-grown options like Melky Cabrera and Kevin Thompson are showing the Yanks that they can get useful spare parts from Columbus. Darrell Rasner and Matt Smith hope to show them the same for the pitching staff.

The important thing is to leave no rock unturned, and not to panic on the trade market, surrendering something of future value, for a player whose value today is less-than-sterling. This Yankees team could be Brian Cashman's legacy, if he plays his cards right, and gets a few breaks (and I don't mean bones).

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