Ed. Note: It's taken me a while to do this month-in-review, and no matter what happens today and tomorrow night, this has been a week to forget in Yankeeland. I'll put aside July for the moment, concentrate on June, and we'll talk about the current crisis shortly.
Record for the Month: 16-12, 137 RS, 114 RA
Overall: 44-39, 386 RS, 366 RA, 3rd Place 6.5 games behind the Rays
Game of the Month: June 27 at Mets. If you'd asked me the most unlikely combination to come through with a combined shutout in pinstripes this season, Sidney Ponson/Kyle FarnsworthJose Veras/Kei Igawa would have been pretty close to the top. Then consider the circumstances: at Shea in the nightcap of a two-borough doubleheader, after Carlos Delgado and the Mets creamolished them at the Stadium in the early game, and facing Pedro Martinez? Raise your hand if you called a Yankee shutout under those circumstances. I thought not.
Player of the Month: Mariano Rivera's numbers look close to getting him a third straight Player of the Month nod, but one loss, and another game where the offense bailed him out, means that we're not quite there. I'll be a bit of a hypocrite by giving Jose Veras part credit by posting 13 innings of 1.98 ERA in June--worse numbers than Rivera, but then, the expectations were much lower. I was kind of dumbfounded by Girardi's affection for Veras earlier in the season, but if he keeps on performing like this, we might just have the player the Yanks thought they were getting in Kyle Farnsworth. Joba Chamberlain made strides in his conversion project, leaving his amazing strikeout rate in the bullpen, but still keeping a 5 to 1 K/Walk ratio, and a 1.80 ERA for the month. Jason Giambi (.305/.430/.585) and Johnny Damon (.363/.425/.441) also get part credits--two players who came into this season on the brink, and are now the team's core performers. But the Player of the Month is Alex Rodriguez, who hit the ball a bit (.366/.455/.693, team-leading 9 HR, 24 Runs, 23 RBI) in his first healthy month of the season.
Dregs of the Month: Darrell Rasner's magical pixie dust ran out (1-5, 6.47 ERA in June), which is a shame, but also just the way the cookie crumbles. Freaky fluke Aaron Small seasons are freaky flukes for a reason: they very rarely happen. Before the season, if someone told you Rasner would have a 4.42 ERA at the end of June, you'd probably think that was about right, maybe a little low. Luckily for Rasner, his poor performance is completely blown away by Melky Cabrera's (.206/.289/.255). Melky's in the middle of the worst offensive stretch by a Yankee regular since Tony Womack back in 2005, he's posted a .565 OPS over the last two months. As Womack shows, there's only so long that you can perform at that level and keep your job. Melky's been fortunate as his slump continued, the Yankees' outfield depth took a hit with the loss of HIdeki Matsui. Otherwise, I can't imagine that the Yankees would let him work his issues out on the major league level, rather than setting him up with a restorative trip to Scranton, no matter how good his defense is.
Story of the Month: If there was one injury the Yankees couldn't afford this season, it would have to have been any injury to Chien Ming Wang. Wang's absence, plus that of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, puts a superhuman weight on the shoulders of the rotation's old warhorses, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte. Unless both pitchers perform to the top of their expectations, the Yanks have little hope of catching the Red Sox or Rays. The Matsui injury leaves the roster pretty thin--now Girardi has an excuse to carry three catchers, as he did for most of the month. I'm sure Chad Moeller's 12 PA last month were totally worth it.