Friday, April 06, 2007

Cold Start

Time to panic. The sky is falling. The seas are boiling and the statue of Babe Ruth in Monument Park is weeping blood.

I just wanted to show you that I'm a "Real Yankee Fan" and that I have as much irrational 162-game mania in my DNA as everyone else. I must admit that there were times during the latest affair that I thought to myself, "This team is bad. This season is starting off on the wrong foot. They can't play defense, the pitching is bad, and the hitting with runners in scoring position is weak or non-existent. It looks like 2006 all over again. Where's Phil Hughes?" Then, I calmed down and remembered that for all the problems we saw in 2006, the Yankees finished the year with the best record in the sport. I also remembered that we've played exactly 3 games. Last, I remembered that the Red Sox are 2-2, losing to the Royals in the opener, and being shut out by the Texas Rangers today. It's early.

Looking at a few small points from the game:

Mike Mussina
He was bad. Just awful actually. The alarming part of his performance was the lack of velocity on his pitches. 85 mph fastballs get you a one way ticket out of the game unless you are a knuckleballer or Greg Maddux. Mussina needs that fastball to clock around 92-93 to be effective with the curve, which was also bad today. His nose was red the whole game, which is either a sign that he was freezing cold out there, sampling a bit of the hooch in the clubhouse, or both. Whatever we saw out there today should go away. I hope it goes away in his next start.

Melky Cabrera
Melky is not playing very well. He was fairly ineffective in the Spring games and he's carried over that poor plate presence to the regular games as well. I think he's now 0-7 or 0-8 on the year, and Johnny Damon can't get back soon enough. I like Melky. I cheer for Melky. Eventually, he'll get it together, but you have to wonder what will happen with an injury to one of the regulars if the Melk Man stays cold. Remember, he is still very raw at his age.

Alex Rodriguez
Talk about having a flair for picking the worst moments to strike out. A-Rod has been very strong so far this year. He's done everything you could ask him to do as a hitter, and he was again in the spotlight with runners in scoring position and nobody out. The crowd rose. They applauded. He struck out on 3 pitches. It was the very tough to pick up Chad Bradford, but y'know Alex, you're making it awfully hard on those of us bent on defending you. Just get that game winning grand slam out of the way early this year and put a few of those boo birds back in their seats. Then you can get back to being mortal again.

Jason Giambi
I can't figure out why Giambi gets such a free pass from fans, as compared to A-Rod. Giambi followed Alex's untimely whiff with one of his own against another tough reliever. Baltimore is collecting those this year. He got a little buzz of boos, but I wanted to see fair and balanced booing. You know like the Fox Network. I think I wonder the same thing at various points of every year, but where did the Jason Giambi of Oakland A's fame go?

His batting averages in Oakland: .291, .293, .295, .315, .333, .342
His batting averages in New York: .314, .250, .208, .271, .253 and counting

How does something like that happen? Despite the poor averages, he's always on the leaderboard for OPS, which is more important. He will probably put up his typical 150ish OPS+ again in 2007, but I wonder how a guy went from putting up .950-1.100 OPS averages WITH a .300+ batting average, to the OPS only player that wears pinstripes. He used to get the walks and hit for power, plus tally 175 hits and 30+ doubles yearly. Now he'll get about 115 hits and 20-25 doubles. In the end, he's still too good to complain much, but it would be nice to see him post an average over .280 to go along with the other numbers. If he'd managed a hit behind A-Rod's strikeout, the game may have played out differently. I'm just sayin'.

I think I'm going to like this platoon. Phelps has looked good so far, save the over aggressive strikeout he had late in the ballgame. He has shown good patience and a quick bat. Minky is a good pinch hitter to face right handed relievers, and he ought to be in there for defense as well. He may not have much left as a hitter on an everyday basis, but it looks like he has enough of a clue at the plate that he shouldn't be an automatic out. That said, Phelps needs to be in there 75% of the time.

Sean Henn
The lefty was great. Anyone out there who was longing for Villone's veteranosity rating still on that bandwagon? I know there weren't many of you, but you know who you are. Henn was exactly what the Yankees needed in this game, and the only complaint I had was that he wasn't called on an inning earlier. I could see that Moose didn't have it, and I wish Joe had as well. You can't kill Torre for sticking with a guy with as much history and as many brains as Moose, but in retrospect he had no business on the mound after showing nothing on the fastball. One funny note on Henn. The NHK broadcast puts up MLB player names in Japanese "katakana" characters. That writing system is almost exclusively used as a pronunciation guide for foreign words. The name "Henn" is spelled out in Japanese and is exactly the same characters as the word for "odd". The Yankees have a pitcher in the bullpen who's name is the Japanese word for "odd". Sweet.

I'll be up at 2am to catch the Igawa start. I was spot on with my Matsuzaka prediction, if you go to MW to check that out. I'll take a stab at Kei Igawa for Saturday as well. I'm betting that I'll be wrong 90% of the time on my predictions for the pair of Japanese pitchers, but I'm off to a good start, so what the Hell.

6 IP
8 hits
3 walks
7 strikeouts
4 ER
98 pitches

The Yankees will get him his first big league win by putting up a huge number tomorrow. I'm predicting a 10+ run outburst for New York in the game. Igawa may get rocked, as he doesn't appear as comfortable in day games, but I'll stick with the prediction. Something like an 11-5 final. See you tomorrow. Go Yankees!


RollingWave said...

Isn't this the same story year in and year out? who cares? i would bet my life that the Yankees wont' finish behind the D-rays by season's end you know ;)

Remember last year how people were saying we shoulda traded Wang for Beckett after the first couple of month? those people obviously forgot though

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