Monday, April 09, 2007

Week In Review: April 2-8, 2007

Record for the Week: 2-3, 33 runs scored, 31 runs allowed

The Breakdown:

4/2 -- Yankees 9, Devil Rays 5
Crappy defense can't keep the Yankees from feasting on the Rays' middle relievers.

4/4 -- Rainout

4/5 -- Devil Rays 7, Yankees 6
Andy Pettitte makes a not-so-triumphant return to the Bronx, Jay Jaffe and Jonah Keri manage not to freeze to death, even in the bleachers.

4/6 -- Orioles 6, Yankees 4
Mike Mussina can't make it through five, continuing the streak of bad starting pitching.

4/7 -- Yankees 10, Orioles 7
Kei Igawa bombs in his first major league outing. He probably didn't imagine that the United States was this cold in April. Alex Rodriguez bails Dr. Kei out with a ninth-inning walk-off grand slam.

4/8 -- Orioles 6, Yankees 4
It isn't the cold so much as the wind and the horrible starting pitching. Darrell Rasner gets taken yard by Paul Bako, and Rodriguez's first inning homer is wasted.

Player of the Week: This one's kind of obvious, so we'll do the runners-up first. Yankees relievers--with the exception of Scott Proctor--rocked the house after the starters got beat up early. Brian Bruney has been overwhelming (6 Ks in 2 2/3 scoreless), and the icewater in Mariano Rivera's veins wasn't affected by the cold weather, at all (4 Ks in 2 scoreless innings). The big surprise has been Sean Henn, putting in 4 2/3 scoreless innings of work in three appearances. He wasn't overpowering, but it's good enough to make Ron Villone's return from Scranton unlikely.

With that out of the way, the Player of the Week was clearly Alex Rodriguez. He hit .381/.458/1.095 for the week, hitting four homers in five games, plating 13 runs, scoring eight himself. In the opener, his stolen base set the tone and started the Yankees comeback. On Saturday, his game-ender reached the black seats. Outside of the dropped pop-up in the opener, his defense has been solid. It has been a good week. A really, really good week.

But it's just a week. The same press that rushes to pillory him has been tripping over itself to declare that he's turned a new leaf. Let's give that a little time. It's a good week, against Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Week after next, if he has a bad week against the Indians and Red Sox, this early glory will be forgotten. It's good to see people getting off his back, and when he's got it going on, Alex Rodriguez is an absolute pleasure to watch. But somehow I doubt the season will be this easy for him.

Everyone--and this includes Alex himself--should enjoy this while it lasts.

Dregs of the Week: Can any one person take the credit for this five-man effort? Here are the numbers -- 0-2, 21 2/3 IP, 36 hits, 13 walks, 12 strikeouts, 9.97 ERA. Carl Pavano, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Kei Igawa, and Darrell Rasner, take a bow! The last three did a marginally worse job than the first two, but that's apropos of nothing. Igawa's the only one to make it through the fifth inning, but he gave up seven runs en route, so let's not quite give him a cookie or anything. In the Japanese arms race, the Yanks are far behind the Red Sox, whose big-money signing, Daisuke Matsuzaka, had a sterling debt against the Royals (7 IP, 1 run, 10 Ks).

The Yanks didn't lead through five in any of the games they played, and needed some late-inning heroics to secure both of their wins. On offense, Melky Cabrera struggled (.118/.211/.118) when given some playing time due to Johnny Damon's strained calves. Now that Hideki Matsui's on the DL, Melky had best get himself straight. Jason Giambi didn't hit too well overall (.158/.273/.316) but he got big hits in both Yankee wins, so he gets a pass...this time.

Story of the Week: It was a cold homestand, and we have to hope that a big dose of 30 something-degree weather was at least partly to blame for the Yanks' poor pitching and fielding this week. Still, since it tends to get chilly in October, the Yanks better get used to the cold if they want to achieve their ultimate goal. Until then, they have to hope the starters and defense get back on track.

That's all--we'll keep it short the first week. Enjoy the season!

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