Saturday, May 12, 2007

More Like It

When you face pitching like the Mariners throw out there every night, you are supposed to paste it. Batista is one of those guys that has bounced between the pen and the rotation everywhere he's been, and he showed why against the Yankees today. He threw the ball in the general direction of the plate, and the Yankees promptly hit it back the other way. That's the way it is supposed to happen.

A-Rod is struggling right now, with a 1-13 stretch, but we had to expect that kind of correction at some point. He still looks confident up there, so there's nothing to worry about in the short term. I'm guessing he'll have a multi-home run game sometime in the near future. In the meantime, no one can get out the Captain or Jorge Posada. The two top hitters in the American League have their averages well over the .370 mark early in the year. In stark contrast, Abreu, Cano, and even Johnny Damon look awful at the plate. Abreu keeps swinging at that pitch away that dies around foot level. He can't lay off of it and looks like a minor leaguer with each swing. Cano swings at any pitch not behind his head. It's uncanny how little plate discipline he has shown this year. Bounce the ball to him, he swings. Throw the ball a foot over his head, he swings. Inside under the hands, swing. Note to Robbie Cano: stop swinging so much. Damon just looks like a shadow of himself. The swings look "slappy" and each plate appearance looks like a struggle not to lose, instead of an attack on the pitcher. Could his back and calves be that bad? To his credit, he knows he has to play, but he may be DL-worthy if not for the urgency of the current situation.

I'm also a little worried about Giambi. To his credit, he can take a walk any day. If he was standing up there on a peg leg, with one arm in a sling, and a bandage wrapped around half of his head, he'd find ball four. The back foot looks bad though, and his hot hitting start may start to slowly fade into the past unless the new orthodic can work a little miracle when it arrives. Regardless of the outcome of this season, you have to worry a little about how this lineup will look in 2008. Do you resign Abreu, or go after Andruw Jones, Ichiro, Fukudome, or someone else? Any of those players would actually get to a ball in the outfield and make a diving grab. Do you resign Giambi after 2008? His skill level is high, but his body is falling apart. I wouldn't resign him. Damon...you invested in him for 2008 and 2009, so maybe you need to shut him down later this year if the situation is right to do so. In order to get two more decent years out of him, you may need to bite the bullet in 2007 and either play Melky or make a trade to let the former caveman get his broken down body together.

The pitching looks to be getting itself together. DeSalvo turned in another great effort against the Mariners, but I would NOT start him against a patient club. He has exactly two strikeouts in his Major League career now, and doesn't have pinpoint control of any of his pitches. His fastball is fair, and his offspeed stuff is mixed in effectively, but he's a poor man's Mussina without the big curve or the power fastball. Where Moose has "heavy" pitches that seem to overpower hitters, DeSalvo's pitches look a bit light and hittable. The Mariners have a .315 On Base Percentage as a team so far, which is only better than Texas (.308) and Chicago (.301) in the AL. It's not hard to see why, when you watch Mariner after Mariner swinging at the first pitch. DeSalvo gets helped out by the Seattle boys, when he gets behind many of the leadoff batters 2-1, only to find himself wriggling out from behind the count by taking advantage of the lack of plate discipline. If he had to face any of the better teams in the league the results may end up different. Keep your fingers crossed for a fast Rocket warmup, and a fast Hughes rehab.

Keep it rollin' boys. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks.