Sunday, June 03, 2007

May in Review: Out Like A Lamb

While I was watching the Yankees throw away a perfectly good win in Boston yesterday afternoon--complete with two errors and a sloppy play in the seventh that ended with four Red Sox runs scoring and Doug Mientkiewicz being carted off the field--I realized that I'd forgotten to put out a Month in Review for May. So here goes:

Record for the Month: 13-15, 137 RS, 119 RA

Player of the Month: You hit close to .400 for a period of 31 days, then you get to be the Player of the Month. Jorge Posada's surge in May (.394/.447/.606) has Jorge as the AL's leading hitter, and has set gums a-flapping about his next contract. You've got some of the usual suspects as runners-up: Derek Jeter (.342/.434/.477), Andy Pettitte (2.16 ERA in 41 2/3 innings, despite a disappointing 2-3 record), and Hideki Matsui (.301/.358/.513). Stealth runners-up are the bullpen trio of Brian Bruney (1.64 ERA in 11 innings, 10 Ks), Scott Proctor (1.50 in 12 IP, 10 K), and Mariano Rivera (1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 IP, 10K). For Rivera, who was a Dregs player in April, this is a good turn-around, even if his overall stats still look ugly. Still, even in the wake of this performance the two homers he allowed in May are still disturbing--the Sandman hasn't had three homers allowed in a season since 2001.

Dregs of the Month: It's no secret that Bobby Abreu (.208/.267/.274) sucked in May. There just wasn't any redeeming portion of his game all month long--he didn't hit, he didn't walk, he didn't slug, and the twisty routes he took getting to balls were straight out of the late-era Bernabe Williams playbook. Want to feel sad? Abreu's predecessor in right field, Gary Sheffield, tied for the AL lead with 10 homers in May. I can't (and didn't, when it happened) complain about Brian Cashman's choice of Abreu over Sheffield--Sheff was coming off a bad injury, was older and whinier than Abreu, and Abreu ended 2006 on a tear. Still, seeing this is like a kick to the privates--the pain gains depth and intensity with time. The Yankees have been completely vulnerable to lefthanded pitching, and Abreu (.203/.246/.271) is one of the big reasons why. If you were scouring the world for a player the Yankees could use right now, Sheffield would be near the top of the list. Instead, he's with the AL Wild Card leaders in Detroit. Ouch.

Runners-up? It's a longish list. Luis Vizcaino's "perfect" 9.00 ERA in May was deeply unfortunate. With so many Yankee starters unable to get through the sixth inning, the team's had a surplus of meaningful relief innings to dish out, and Vizcaino's response in May was to throw batting practice. Mike Mussina actually didn't pitch that badly (5.22 ERA, 2 QS of 6), but he has been the most frustrated-looking person on the entire ballclub during the last month, outside of maybe Joe Torre. Jason Giambi hit .177 for the month, while struggling with foot problems--now we hear he might be done for the season. Matt DeSalvo, who looked like a potential Aaron Small when he was first called up, walked 15 against 6 strikeouts in 21 2/3 May innings. He got recycled down to Scranton at the start of June.

Story of the Month: I think I'll save something for the Week In Review tomorrow, so this will be short. I was pretty shocked that the record for May was just couple of games shy of .500, since the month felt like an unmitigated disaster. It's supposed to be April that comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb, but May started with the Yanks winning 7 of their first 9 against Seattle and Texas, and ended with them "desperate" to put the brakes on a five-game losing streak in Toronto. May was a tease, with Hughes' injury-interrupted no-hit bid, the dramatic announcement of Roger Clemens's return to pinstripes, DeSalvo and Clippard's initial good starts all giving way to disappointment, losses, and more injuries. By the end of the month, Kei Igawa was getting slapped around in Scranton, Alex Rodriguez was resorting to yelling at infielders to try to scrape together a win (not that there's anything wrong with that) and squiring busty young women not his wife around Toronto (not that it's any of our business, although I'll admit that I'm really looking forward to reading Will Weiss's take on the coverage of it in his Yankee Panky column over at Bronx Banter), and the Yankees were sharing the AL East cellar with the Devil Rays.

And Yankee fans? We're kind of hunched over, as if recovering from the aforementioned kick to the privates. For any ladies (or gents who've somehow avoided scrotal injury in their lives) this is how it works: you try to concentrate on breathing while waiting for waves of stomach-churning, nausea-inducing pain to subside. Like any lingering pain, there's the momentary concern that it won't ever fade away, even though experience teaches us that it definitely will. We're still waiting for the pain to stop...and it could be a while.

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