Monday, May 14, 2007

Week In Review: And the Wheel Goes Round...

Week 6: May 7-13
Record for the Week: 3-4, 26 RS, 28 RA
Overall: 17-19, 3rd place AL East, 8 games behind the Red Sox

The Breakdown:

05/07 -- Seattle 3, Yankees 2
Matt DeSalvo's major league debut spoiled by a missed call on a Willie Bloomquist caught stealing, and Adrian Beltre hammering Mariano Rivera for a game-winning solo homer. The Yankees put lots of guys on base, to no avail. Lesson learned: We spent August and September last season saying how ungrateful Phillie fans were, booing Bobby Abreu. Abreu's 7 men left on base maybe gave us a window into their point of view.

05/08 -- Rangers 2, Yankees 8
Alex Rodriguez breaks a two-week homer drought, and Andy Pettitte controls the Texas offense for seven innings. Lesson learned: Jerry Hairston in center field is not a good idea.

05/09 -- Rangers 2, Yankees 6
The Yanks' new-look lineup--Abreu bats second, and Jeter and A-Rod bat back-to-back in the 3-4 slots--does a good job against the Texas, and Mike Mussina gives the Yanks their third consecutive quality start, and their fourth in five games. Lesson learned: If you go five years between major league hits, like Wil Nieves did, you might forget to stop at first when you finally end the Nieves did.

05/10 -- Rangers 14, Yankees 2
On getaway day, the Rangers totally got away with one to save themselves from the series sweep. Brandon McCarthy stifled the bombers into the sixth inning, by which time the Texas offense had already staked him to a 4-1 lead off Chien Ming Wang. Things would get ugly for Wang in the seventh inning, and in the later innings the game became an out-and-out laugher. Lesson learned: Luis Vizcaino can turn a big 7-2 lead into an ego-building, 10-2 lead. That, and onetime Met Victor Diaz can sure turn on a fastball.

05/11 -- Yankees 0, Mariners 3
A nice Darrell Rasner start is wasted when the Yanks can't seem to get anything going against Jarrod Washburn, despite putting seven men on base through eight innings. Lesson learned: When a team that thrives on getting starters to throw a lot of pitches and then feasting on the soft middle relief, can't get Washburn up over 100 pitches until his 8th inning of work, they're probably in trouble. Another possibility is that they simply suck against lefthanders.

05/12 -- Yankees 7, Mariners 2
A big second inning gives the Yanks and Matt DeSalvo their revenge against Miguel Batista. Three Yankees (Jeter, Hideki Matsui, and Jorge Posada) get three hits. Lesson learned: Matt DeSalvo is on track in the quest to become this season's Aaron Small.

05/13 -- Yankees 1, Mariners 2
Andy Pettitte's effort makes it six quality starts in the last eight games. Horacio Ramirez's effort makes for the fourth time in a week the Yankees were held under six runs. This didn't work out too well. Lesson learned: Yeah, they just suck against lefties. Against lefthanded pitchers, the Yankees hit .267/.339/.385 as opposed to .282/.362/.436 against righthanders.

Player of the Week: Andy Pettitte (1-1, 1.88 ERA, 14.1 IP) and DeSalvo (1-0, 1.98 ERA, 13.2 IP) were great in their four starts last week. Sadly for the Yankees, they each got minimal run support in one of their starts. On offense, Derek Jeter was the man, collecting seven of the Yanks 22 RBI for the week, and hitting .480/.581/.560. Honorable mentions out to Jorge Posada .440/.440/.560 and Doug Mientkiewicz (.368/.381/.579)? Weird week, that's all I can say.

Dregs of the Week: We already mentioned Bobby Abreu (.143/.172/.179). He's joined by Robinson Cano (.111/.111/.185) and Jason Giambi (.000/.125/.000 in 16 PA)--although Giambi gets an injury dispensation for his heel spur. On the pitching side of the ledger, Chien Ming Wang followed up his near-perfect effort with a butt-ugly seven run 6.1 IP performance. This hurts us as much as it does you, Tiger.

Story of the Week: This was a week without any one dominant story, just a bunch of little ones, so in no particular order:

1) Igawa Goes to Tampa -- I feel we've seen this movie before, acted out by such luminaries as Hideki Irabu and Jose Contreras, all sent down to Tampa to bask in the wise glow of pitching gurus such as Billy Connors. Does this ever end well? Is there ever a time when you send someone who's regarded as a skilled veteran down to the minors to work on their skills, and they actually turn into the pitcher you expected? It's a shame that the Yanks' needs at the end of Spring Training were such that they couldn't afford to send Igawa down to the minors to start off, let him work his way up. That sound you hear is fifty someodd million dollars circling the toilet bowl...

2) Reversal of Fortune -- That's the way it goes sometimes. In April the Yanks were dying because they couldn't buy a decent pitching performance. Now they're getting quality starts from the likes of Matt DeSalvo, along with oldsters Pettitte and Mike Mussina...and they can't score. Bad times. In May, Robinson Cano is looking up at the Mendoza line, and Bobby Abreu, the perennial Prince of the Base on Balls, has only walked once in the last two weeks. Jason Giambi has been old and injured, and Josh Phelps hasn't made an impact. And then there's the other issue...

3) Power Outage-Rod -- Alex Rodriguez's May numbers aren't bad (.277/.393/.383) but they're a pretty strong indicator of what's gone wrong with this offense. The overwhelming power surge that drove Rodriguez to a historic April has flatlined. It was frustrating to watch on Sunday, Rodriguez flailing away against a scrub like Horacio Ramirez (7.62 ERA going into his start with the Yanks), and then coming up empty in his big opportunity in the eighth inning--two on, two out against rookie Brandon Morrow. Giving the rook some credit, Morrow struck Rodriguez out on a near-perfect pitch--knee-high and painting the outside corner with mid-90s heat. But despite that, you could see that Alex's swing wasn't really working well before strike three. As pointed out above, there's plenty of blame to go around, and Alex shouldn't be expected to hit 15 homers each month this season. Still, he's got to get on track if the Yanks are going to get back in the race.

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