Week 12: June 18-24, 2007
No Breakdown this week--I'm too aggravated.
Record for the Week: 1-5, 19 RS, 29 RA
Overall: 36-37, seven games behind Cleveland for the Wild Card
Player of the Week: Alex Rodriguez hit .545/.643/.818, with another dramatic late-inning homer that alas, only set up the Yanks for an extra-innings loss on Saturday. That's the Player of the Week. Derek Jeter hit well on the road trip as well (.348/.423/.603) but baserunning follies in Denver keep him from sharing the honors. Melky Cabrera had a nice week (.348/.360/.609), continuing to show all the consistency of Sybill. As far as the pitchers went, erm...Luis Vizcaino was OK (4 1/3 scoreless). That's about as good as things get.
Dregs of the Week: Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte spit the bit at altitude, with the Rocket going on to cough up another run in relief at sea level against the Giants. Kyle Farnsworth (3 runs in 2 1/3) is dead to me now. Bobby Abreu has gone back to his outmaking ways (.125/.160/.208), and Hideki Matsui was none too happy to be playing the NL West (.167/.222/.333). I could go on...and I will in the next segment.
Story of the Week: The one game the Yankees won last week was a microcosm for the month of June. Kei Igawa made his triumphant return from Tampa and Scranton and the tutelage of Billy Connors and Nardi Contreras and lord knows who else. And for a few innings, it was working. The fastball was a little faster, the straight change was hellacious, his mechanics looked repeatable. Igawa himself was still the ugliest pitcher since Zane Smith (ugliest Yankee since Randy Johnson doesn't sound quite as impressive), but the strikeout he got against Bonds in the fourth inning--climbing the ladder to make Bonds fish for a pitch up over his shoulder--was a thing of beauty.
And suddenly, against your better judgment, you started to get excited. "Oh my gosh! They fixed him! This could be what Cashman thought he was getting this winter..."
And then you remembered: it's Kei Igawa. Of course, with a five-run lead, his mechanics fell apart in the fifth. Of course Torre tried, valiantly, to get the lefty through five innings so he could be eligible for the win. And of course, he crapped out, had to be bailed out by the bullpen, and the Yanks had to empty out their bullpen for no good reason.
All the winning at the beginning of the month was nice. The Yankees will come out of June ahead of the game for the month--they're 14-8 for June and they only have five games left. Still, the whole thing may well leave us feeling like we did on Friday--foolish for having believed in something that wasn't real. This Yankee club has picked up Pettitte and Clemens, and are basically just David Wells shy of reconstructing the 2002-2003 rotation that was long in the tooth back then, and is certainly no fresher now. This team is short on power, with Jason Giambi on the DL with a bad foot--maybe indefinitely--and a big mouth. There's no first baseman, and we're all acting nonchalant, as if having Miguel Cairo at first base were normal for a contending ballclub. Bobby Abreu has moments when it looks as if he's never seen a baseball before, much less been an elite professional baseball player his entire adult life. The team's slow, since the appointed speed demon, Johnny Damon, is walking wounded, and refuses to lie down for a little while, in hopes that he might spend some of this season...not wounded.
Last week we were talking about the deals that the Yanks could make to stay in the hunt--this week we have to consider if they should even bother. In the 11 games since they first hit .500, the Yanks are 5-6. Now they only have 89 games left in which to shock the world, and the odds get slimmer with each loss. Last week--and losses to two teams who are hardly the class of the senior circuit--made the case for the opposite. Forget chasing a pipe dream of vaulting over five teams for a playoff berth. Forget this aging, overpaid nucleus. What good is Johnny Damon if he can't run? What good is Roger Clemens without run support? What good is Kei Igawa, period? Does it matter who's playing first base if you're looking up at Toronto in the standings?
So that's the question. Nuke the team, or roll the dice on a low-percentage shot to continue the team's postseason roll? And worse, is either of those options really viable? Are we condemned to the middle road by long-term contracts and opponents not too keen to help out the bullies in the Bronx?
We've got three games at Camden Yards, then a homestand to end the first half: A's, Twins, Angels. Time's running out to learn what kind of team this is, and which road they should take.