Thursday, June 16, 2005


Taking a look at the Yankees

So, I guess the Yankees are always good, except for this year, when they suck. Or at least that's what I hear, I don't really follow the American League. So, for the benefit of NL-only'ers like me, I will present you with a snappy little preview. Here I will highlight some of the key players on the Yankees and try and determine if Steinbrenner really is sitting on a 200 million dollar pile of poo.

First off, the record. The Yankees are sitting right at .500, with a 32-32 record. And they have a 200 million dollar payroll. Just to be very clear about this, at no point should you either laugh with glee or giggle maniacally at the Yankees suffering. At least not until the Cubs get out of New York (karma, you know). Okay, on to the "analysis":

The Pitching

So far, the Yankees have been shelling out big money for some decent, if thoroughly unspectacualr, pitching. Their current "big three" of Johnson, Mussina, and Pavano have ERAs of 3.76, 3.89, and 4.17 respectively and salaries of 15, 19(!), and 9 million dollars (also respectively). Again, no laughing. Bad karma.

As far the matchups this series, the Cubs will have Zambrano vs. Pavano, Rusch vs. Wang, and Mitre vs. Mussina. The Cubs are throwing their current-best pitchers out there, and the Yankees are sending out two of their three best. Should be some good baseball (since I said that, you can expect three blowouts). Rusch should be favored by the famed (albeit unproven) lefty-in-yankee-stadium advantage and so has a great opportunity to bounce back from a couple of rough starts. Zambrano will toe the rubber very gingerly (get it?) and hopefully suffer no side effects from his stubbed toe. And of course, Mitre is pod-people now, so he should be excellent.

Pavano has been hit pretty hard this year, giving up a .308 Batting average against. He strikes out very few (~5 per 9 innings) and walks fewer. In theory, the Cubs should hit this guy very hard. In theory. He does throw lots of ground balls, but somehow this year they have been scooting past Glove Glove shortstop Derek Jeter (I'm as shocked as you are). Honestly, I never know what to expect with this team anymore, but Pavano seems ripe for the picking.

Mussina is a very good pitcher having a decent year. His best pitch is the knuckle curve, which I've never had described to me in a satisfactory manner, but seems to baffle hitters. Couple that with good control and he is a tough guy to beat. Of course, so were Beckett and Halladay, but Mitre didn't seem bothered facing either of them.

Finally, Wang is really, really ripe for the picking (really). He has walked almost as many as he has struck out, has struck out almost nobody (3 K's per 9) and yet has given up less than a hit per inning. He has been tremendously lucky to only have a 4.44 ERA as he has pitched much worse from that, at least according to the numbers. Hopefully the Cubs can correct some of the luck that has been swinging his way.

Side note: Between Johnson and Wang, 2/5'ths of the Yankees' rotation is named after the male member. Doesn't that seem like a bad idea to anyone else? Sort of like the ex-Cub factor, only more juvenile. The "Curse of the Giggle-stick euphemism". I think releasing one of these two pitchers could really solve most of their problems.

The Bullpen - Rivera has re-found his dominate self and has been super-duper good. Fear him. Former Cubs Flash Gordon and Tanyon Sturtz (remember him?) have also been solid contributors to the pen, but after that it gets dicey. Everyone else has an ERA over 5, some have an ERA over 6, and one guy has an ERA over 7. That isn't really what you shoot for in a bullpen. Kinda bad, actually. So listen up boys. Work the count! Get into that bullpen! Please!

The Hitting

Really quick look at the hitting (now in stunning incomplete-sentence-o'-vision).

The Good -

A-Rod. - Having an amazing season. MVP candidate.
Gary Sheffield - declining. but slowly. Still makes me pee a drop when at the plate.
Derek Jeter - Now with Gold Glove defense!

The Decent -

Jorge Posada - Not bad. For a Catcher
Hideki Matsui - definition of average
Tino Martinez - Geh. lucky he still has some pop.
Robinson Cano - hope his defense is good. .299 OBP.

The Bad -

Bernie Williams - Fork. Back. Done.
Jason Giambi - *Snicker*

The Indescribably Bad -

Tony Womack - Think Neifi. Pre-Neifi!. Without the defense. And now an outfielder! (okay, in all fairness, who could have seen this coming. Answer: anyone)

Alright, thus ends the preview. The Yankees are officially average, but they could still beat the hell out of the Cubs if the Cubs don't show up ready to play. And frankly, if they can't get up to play the Yankees, then I - well, I don't know. Just win.

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