Monday, September 04, 2006

Week In Review: Midwest in the Bronx

Record for the Week: 4-2 (17 RA, 30 RS)
Overall: 81-54 (9 games ahead of Boston, 11 ahead of Toronto)

Player of the Week: Let's see--hit .375/.400/1.042 for the week, with a team-leading 5 homers and 11 RBI...yeah, Alex Rodriguez is the player of the week, no bones about it. My older brother and I gave up our tickets for yesterday's game to Brother T, and our Yankee-Brother-by-Another-Mother Kenny. Apparently, when Alex came up with a 5-1 lead, Kenny told T (and obviously, I'm paraphrasing): "You watch, he's gonna hit a home run, here. Heck, he'll hit another one next time up, if the score's not close." So said Kenny, and so it happened, with A-Rod's two homers running up the score en route to a 10-1 victory.

Fair enough. Rodriguez has had a poor season (by his standards) and he's the player that fans love to hate. Other than having a Reggie Jackson-in-1978 postseason, complete with a three or four homer barrage in the World Series, I don't know if that's ever going to change. No disrespect to Brother K, but if Alex ever hit four jacks in a Series game, everyone would probably complain that the last three came "when the pressure's off."

Back to the awards, the Captain was a strong runner-up this week, with a blistering .476/.593/.619 homestand. Bobby Abreu kept doing his thing--shockingly, no walks but a .381/.381/.571 week, with four doubles and five steals. Last week, we lambasted the Yankees' relievers as a unit, this week we praise the starters as a unit: the Yankees got starts from six different pitchers this week, and received five quality starts. They likely would have received a sixth QS if Randy Johnson hadn't gone long to preserve the bullpen on Thursday. Chien Ming Wang and Cory Lidle didn't allow a run in their appearances, unheralded types Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner were good, and much-maligned Jaret Wright was effective. All told, the starters pitched 41 innings over six games, allowing nine runs, a cumulative 1.98 ERA.

Dregs of the Week: I'm sick of complaining about overworked Scott Proctor and Ron Villone, who combined, gave up almost as many runs (7) as all six starters did last week, in only four innings pitched. Dregs more properly goes to Jason Giambi, who hit .067/.250/.067 on the week. The de facto platoon of Bernie Williams (.182/.250/.182) and Aaron Guiel (.000/.231/.000) ate up 21 at bats last week. Johnny Damon continued his performance sine wave with a down week (.269/.296/.346).

Story of the Week: Writing a week in review, followed by a month in review, and a week in review again, "big picture" stories are a bit hard to come by. It was good to see the team re-establish itself against two of the three AL Central powers, after dropping a few games on the road to them during the August Marathon. Over the past month--the Post-Abreu period--the Yanks have faced four of the five teams most likely to make the playoffs in the AL: in reverse order, the Angels, the White Sox, the Twins and the Tigers. Only the Oakland A's are missing. The team with the slimmest chance of making the playoffs, the Angels, have played the Yanks the toughest of this crowd (4-6). The White Sox pitching is no longer as scary as it used to be, but they rake like nobody's business. Still, the Yanks have matched up well against Ozzie Guillen's guys (4-2). The Twins, who should be the scariest team against the Yanks on paper, have been manageable in the two team's face-to-face confrontations (3-3). Still, if the team can send out Santana and Liriano in a short series, they're instantly frightening. The Tigers are the best team in the league, record-wise, but the Yankees have manhandled them face-to-face (5-2). The Oakland A's, meanwhile, have a 6-3 record against the Bombers, largely on the strength of a whopping 13 unearned runs the A's have collected against the Yanks.

The good news is, the Yanks seem unlikely to face an AL West team in the Division Series. They're more likely to face an opponent from the friendlier midwest.

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