Sunday, May 04, 2008

Month in Review: April

Record for the Month: 14-15, RS: 125, RA: 133

Player of the Month: Hideki Matsui hit .322/.425/.511 in April, with 4 homers and 13 RBI, raising the question of whether this is a resurgence or just Hideki Matsui month come early. Melky Cabrera (.299/.370/.494) also impressed, specially with his 5 April homers, matching Jason Giambi for the team lead. A 20+ homer season would sure make the Yankees glad they didn't deal Melky to the Twins. But neither of the two outfielders (more like one-and-a-half--Matsui's fielding in left looked like he needed a seeing eye dog) aren't the Player of the Month. That distinction would go to the pitchers: Mariano Rivera (8 saves, no runs allowed and only four baserunners in 11 innings) and Chien Ming Wang (5 wins and 5 of 6 quality starts, 3.23 ERA for the month.

Dregs of the Month: You'd pretty much have to start with Robinson Cano--who got a big-money multi-year commitment from the team in the off-season--was been horrible, with a .151/.211/.236 month. But the bigger headache are the rotation youngsters, Phillip Hughes and Ian Kennedy, who combined for an 0-6 record and allowed 40 Earned Runs in 41 Innings Pitched. Their month was a fiasco, from start to finish. With two quality starts out of 11, the duo only completed six innings once time apiece. Hughes started May on the DL with a mysterious stress fracture of one of his ribs, and a diagnosis of nearsightedness. While the cliche is for me to declare that at least it's not an arm injury, I'm starting to worry that Hughes has more than a little Nick Johnson in him. As for Kennedy, he's walking almost a man per inning; something that's just befuddling for a guy who's hailed as a command-and-control type. Darrell Rasner is the first pitcher to come up from AAA to get a taste of the Yankee rotation--others like Steven White and Kei Igawa might follow. Unless Kennedy shapes up, fast, one of those guys might wind up in his rotation slot.

Story of the Month: Injuries. Brian Cashman spent April shuffling his roster like a blackjack dealer. The team only used 30 players in April, but it was a constant see-saw with players like Jonathan Alabadejo being sent down and then up, guys like Chad Moehler having their contracts picked up from the minors, getting designated for assignment, and getting signed again. There have been six DL moves (Andy Pettitte, Wilson Betemit, Brian Bruney, Jorge Posada, Hughes and Alex Rodriguez), one bereavement list stay (Joba Chamberlain) and several non-DL injuries (mainly Derek Jeter's quad but also aches and pains by Morgan Ensberg and Jose Molina). The biggest injury has been Posada's: just after signing a four-year deal, Jorge's got a torn labrum that will require surgery. He'll try to rehab the shoulder for the next few months, but there's no guarantee that he'll be able to throw well enough to handle behind-the-plate duty this season. That's a scary possibility, since catcher is a slot where, for years, the Yanks have had no depth. Even though Molina is the best backup that Posada's had in years, he only hit .231/.231/.365 in April. Let's hope that Hip-Hip-Jorge gets back in the saddle soon.

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