Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Week in Review: Healthy Homestand

Week 18: July 30-August 5, 2007

Record for the Week: 5-1, 64 RS, 31 RA
Overall: 61-50, 1/2 game behind Detroit for the Wild Card

The Rundown:

7/31 -- White Sox 3, Yankees 16
When the White Sox had their amazing year in 2005, the most shocking thing about it was Jose Contreras suddenly turning into a stud pitcher, perhaps even the ace of their staff. It's like he decided, "Wow, I made it out of Yankee Stadium with the Yankees' money. Time not to suck anymore!" So seeing him get shelled by the Bombers in the Bronx was not just a welcome sight, it was like a restoration of the natural order of things.

8/1 -- White Sox 1, Yankees 8
Quietly, Andy Pettitte's thrown four straight quality starts, after a suspect stretch in late June/early July. Over the first two games of the White Sox series, the Yanks had 13 home runs.

8/2 -- White Sox 13, Yankees 9
The requisite letdown game. The Yankee bats remained potent, Wilson Betemit went yard in his first Yankee at-bat, but sadly, Roger Clemens was throwing batting practice. He allowed an eight spot in the second inning and had to be relieved with two outs. Bad, bad, ugly loss.

8/3 -- Kansas City 1, Yankees 7
How popular is Chien Ming Wang in Taiwan? Recently a Taiwanese presidential candidate visited the Stadium, and wanted to meet Wang, have a photo op, that kind of thing. Apparently, Wang wouldn't meet the guy--nothing personal, he just didn't want to influence the results of the election!

8/4 -- Kansas City 8, Yankees 16
There'd been a moment in late in Thursday night's game when one of the Royals' relievers started off Alex Rodriguez with a fastball down and in--the perfect pitch for Alex to drive--which he took for a strike. With two on in the first inning of Saturday's game, I saw KC's catcher setting up on the inside corner, and announced "here it comes" to my wife, just before Rodriguez crushed his 500th homer. There was a brief, shining moment of well-being in the Yankee fan community--the 500 homer monkey was off Alex's back, Phil Hughes was back on the mound and looking good, everything was right with the world. Reality ultimately intruded--Hughes got roughed up and didn't make it through five, the Yanks had to scramble to put up another football score for the win--but it was a nice moment.

8/5 -- Kansas City 5, Yankees 8
Hideki Matsui hits a milestone--he's only 400 homers behind Rodriguez in his MLB career--and Bobby Abreu has his fourth three-hit game of the week.

Player of the Week: Bobby Abreu went nuts on the White Sox and Royals, to the tune of .600/.667/1.050 with 3 HR and 9 RBI. Robinson Cano hit .478/.556/1.087, also with three homers and nine RBI. Jorge Posada hit .444/.575/1.111 with three homers, and also homering three times was Hideki Matsui (.348/.407/.783). In addition to that, Chien Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina all had good starts.

Dregs of the Week: Clemens, easy. You want more? Mike Myers managed to convince Joe Torre that the team doesn't need a LOOGY anymore, and Kyle Farnsworth has gotten to the point where I'm starting to wonder if he's intentionally doing poorly, just out of spite. Farnsworth's driving me crazy...I don't even enjoy hating him anymore.

Here's an idea. Let's all pretend we don't hate him anymore. Stop booing the second he warms up. Be supportive of the big lug. We seem to be stuck with him, and wishing a horrific demise upon him hasn't been working for us Yankee fans. So how about a 180 degrees different approach, a group hug-type thing? I'll try it:

Hang in there Kyle! We got ya back!

God, that felt unnatural. But sometimes you gotta take one for the team.

Story of the Week: Slowly this team is turning into what was expected--and just in time, because after this week's series in Toronto, things get tough--three games against AL Central leading Cleveland, then home for three against Baltimore, then a nightmare stretch with four at home against Wild Card leader Detroit, then out to Los Angeles of Anaheim for three against the hated Angels, then to Detroit for four more games, then back to the Bronx to play three against the Red Sox. That stretch right there is the crucible of this season, where the whole thing will fly or founder, to mix metaphors. The season won't be finished , by any means, but it's likely that the Yankees will only have six games against contenders in September.

So August would, notionally, be harder.

The team is drawing pretty close to full strength. Phil Hughes is back--had a tough start, but I'm not down on him. Joba's due this week, and Giambi might be back by the end of the week. One Yankee who won't be with this team is Mike Myers, who was waived to make room for Jim Brower, of all people. I got an email from Joe Sheehan on this when it was announced that gave me pause:

I hate the seven-man bullpen, but what the hell? Myers not only does the LOOGY thing as well as anyone alive, but he'd taken on the role of mop-up man without bitching.
If they actually made this move because of a short-term blip in his LHB BA against, they're all idiots.
Mike Myers has faced appx. 82 LHBs and struck out 18 of them, walking nine and allowing one HR.
Ron Villone has faced appx. 48 LHBs and struck out THREE of them, walking three and allowing two HR.
Sean Henn (demoted Saturday) has faced appx. 44 LHBs and struck out FIVE of them, walking four and allowing one HR.

Now, Joe's absolutely right--if you're going to keep one of the team's lefthanders, between Myers, Henn and Villone, I don't see where Villone is the pick. Unlike Myers, Villone isn't really a lefty-killing type lefty--his delivery doesn't contain a lot of deception--he has a worse track record than Myers, he was a guy who couldn't find a job with another club in Spring Training...it just doesn't make sense. Meanwhile, Myers' problems with lefthanders come down to a .390 BABIP, which is frequently stathead shorthand for "bad luck." Myers has been DFA'd, which means there's a chance that the Yankees will be able to deal him rather than just releasing him; you'd have to think that a number of contenders looking for a LOOGY would be interested.

Maybe they get some value for him. But honestly, this looks like a huge waste. The only counterpoint in the Yanks favor has been that Myers' 2.50 ERA aside, he hasn't looked good against lefties--they look like they've been hitting him pretty squarely. The fact that Myers has been more effective against righthanders than lefthanders as a Yankee is actually a strike against him, as a guy who was brought on to be the Yankees' LOOGY. He never really had a chance for a larger role like Mike Stanton played back in the day.

Hopefully, the electronic "ink" I've spilled just now about this guy will far outweigh the contribution Myers would have made down the stretch and in the playoffs, even under the best of circumstances.

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