Monday, September 03, 2007

Week/Month in Review: Arms Race

Week 22: August 27-September 2, 2007

Record for the Week: 4-3, 26 RS, 45 RA
Overall: 76-61, 2 games ahead of Seattle for the Wild Card

Only a smattering of comments this week...

8/27 -- Yankees 0, Detroit 16
A perfectly humiliating end to a perfectly nightmarish series. Moose doesn't get the job done, again. Sean Henn is thrown to the wolves, again. Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, and Brandon Inge each have three hits. Another one for the list of worst defeats of the season.

8/28 -- Boston 3, Yankees 5
Johnny Damon haunts his former team...again. Andy Pettitte does a nice job, outpitching Daisuke Matsuzaka.

8/29 -- Boston 3, Yankees 4

8/30 -- Boston 0, Yankees 5

8/31 -- Tampa Bay 9, Yankees 1
The Yanks have a fine time against Boston's top three starters earlier in the week, but have not traction whatsoever against Andy Sonnanstine. Sonnanstine, who had a 6.38 ERA coming into this start, threw eight two-hit innings at the Bombers. Carlos Pena, still sore that he didn't get a shot with the club last year, bashed a couple of homers.

9/1 -- Tampa Bay 6, Yankees 9

9/2 -- Tampa Bay 8, Yankees 2
First Sonnanstine, now Jason Hammel (7.44 ERA coming into this start) restrains the Yankee lineup. Pena smacks another homer. Sour way to end the week.

Player of the Week: This week, Chien Ming Wang gets the honors, with his seven one-hit innings against the Sox. Roger Clemens and Ian Kennedy are the runners-up, and Alex Rodriguez (team-leading 6 RBI, .333/.440/.667) and Derek Jeter (.360/.429/.520) were the offensive standouts.

Dregs of the Week: Plenty of blame to go around this week. The offense was anemic this week, so I guess credit should go to the worst performer that way, Jason Giambi (.118/.118/.176 in 17 PA), although Hideki Matsui (.160/.222/.240) and Johnny Damon (.167/.200/.292) helped. On the pitching side, we're tired of talking about Mike Mussina, and Sean Henn is hardly fair sport. So maybe now's the time to ask: when do we start worrying about Phil Hughes (5 run in 4 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay). He hasn't had a good start since beating Cleveland on the tenth, his fastball isn't what's been advertised, and his control is spotty. I comforted my Brother J with the memory that many great pitchers, like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, fairly sucked their rookie years, despite being highly-touted prospects. However, both of those guys had the luxury of being bad on team who weren't in contention. Every start this month will likely be vital--there's no room for a learning curve. Another Rookie hurler that had me concerned this week was Edwar Ramirez. Edwar's given up 5 gopher balls in 12 innings this season, so he, too is missing a big opportunity.

Story of the Week: It was all about the starting rotations this week. Mike Mussina started the week by surrendering his roster spot, in what became one of the more humiliating games in a season full of humbling experiences. From Tuesday through Thursday, the top three starters showed their potential by holding the Red Sox to six runs over a three-game series. On Saturday, Mussina's replacement, Ian Kennedy, pitched beautifully in his major league debut--three runs over seven innings--to earn himself a second start. That evening, the Red Sox rookie starter, Clay Buchholz, no-hit the Orioles. And then the week ended on a worrisome note, with Roger Clemens admitting to several injury concerns, including (gulp!) a sore pitching elbow.

While the starters grabbed the headlines, the subtext was that the Yankee bullpen and offense languished this week. Luis Vizcaino got roughed up by the Devil Rays on Saturday, Kyle Farnsworth only pitched once all week, and got beat down that time. Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, Brian Bruney, and the sacrificial lefty, Sean Henn, all took some heavy hits. On offense, the Yankees combined to hit .235/.302/.372 for the week, roughly as good as Brandon Inge or Julio Lugo. With the team directly behind them for the Wild Card coming into the Stadium, they can't afford to continue that route.

August in Review

Record for the Month
: 18-11, 178 RS, 167 RA

Player of the Month: Andy Pettitte was Mr. August, winning all six of his starts for the month with a 2.36 ERA. Joba Chamberlain deserves some share of these honors, with 11 1/3 shutout innings that have made him the #2 man in the bullpen. Alex Rodriguez hit .330/.424/.620 with 9 homers, 9 steals, 22 RBI--just a plain old monster. Among the honorable mentions, Bobby Abreu had a good month, 324410559 with 6 homers, and Robinson Cano experienced a power surge, hitting 7 homers in a .301/.385/.583 month. Probably the most impressive part of that was the 12 walks he drew in August.\

Dregs of the Month: Sean Henn (18 runs, 16 of them earned, in 9 1/3 August innings) might have had the worst month by a Yankee reliever in a very long time, but then he was put into situations almost guaranteed to shatter his confidence. Mike Mussina managed to shatter management's confidence in him, averaging more than a run an inning and only 4 2/3 innings per start in August. He left the brass little choice but to pull him from the rotation. The Yankees' DFA of Mike Myers made Ron Villone the primary lefty in the pen, and even before he got hurt on August 21 against the Angels, he wasn't pitching very impressively (5 ER in 10 2/3 August innings); after tweaking his back he walked three guys and allowed four runs. And, as mentioned in the Week section, Phil Hughes had a month to forget, with a 6.40 ERA in 32 1/3 August innings. Hughes' strikeout rate remains promising (8.07 K/9 for the month) but the six homers he allowed in August weren't.

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