The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


For better or worse

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jun 04, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

There’s a reason for the Yankees uneven first two months of the season. Several reasons, actually. The Yankees have yet to get every part of their roster functioning at the same time. Injuries have hurt, but not nearly as much as under-performing players and underwhelming numbers. The Yankees have taken the good with the bad, and the result has been a winning but frustrating performance.

Better than expected…
The top of the order: The Yankees knew Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson could be this good — they’d seen Granderson do it all last year, and seen Jeter do it in last season’s second half — but it was hard to expect those results to repeat themselves. They could be good, no question, but great? Jeter is hitting like he’s in his prime again, and Granderson seems to have legitimately emerged as one of baseball’s most productive sluggers. This lineup’s had it’s problems, but the top two spots aren’t among them.
But then again…
The middle of the order: The Yankees lineup is full of players who have been productive in the past, but it’s still a lineup built around the projected production of Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira. That should be among the most dangerous middle of the orders in baseball, but none of them has reached double digit home runs and all three have been especially bad with runners in scoring position. The heart of the order is at the heart of the team’s offensive struggles.

Better than expected…
The bullpen: If there’s one pirce of the roster that has an excuse, it’s the bullpen. They were supposed to be adding Joba Chamberlain to the mix around this time, not trying to make up for the loss of Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson. Even though nothing has gone as planned, the Yankees have the third-best bullpen ERA in the American League. Rafael Soriano has been an effective closer, Boone Logan and Cory Wade have been terrific in the setup role, and David Phelps and Cody Eppley have emerged as effective young relievers.
But then again…
The rotation: This winter the Yankees focused on the rotation, through trades, free agent signings and a contract extension for CC Sabathia. When spring training opened, the rotation was deep and had the potential to be one of the best in baseball. Instead there are only four teams with a worse rotation ERA than the Yankees. The trend might be turning with Andy Pettitte’s arrival and Phil Hughes’ resurgence, but the rotation has not been what the Yankees expected it to be three months ago.

Better than expected…
Getting on base: The Yankees have the second-highest on-base percentage and the third-highest slugging percentage in the American League. They’re hitting .292 when leading off an inning, and they’ve slugged .472 with the bases empty. Few teams have been as good as the Yankees at creating scoring opportunities
But then again…
Driving in runs: Attempting to capitalize on those scoring opportunities has led to a series of disappointments. With runners in scoring position and especially with the bases loaded, the Yankees have been unbelievably bad. Even when they’re hit, they’ve struggled to produce. Cano and Rodriguez, expected to be two of the Yankees top run producers, are each hitting below .200 with runners in scoring position. The each hit over .300 with power in those situations last season.

Better than expected…
Chris Stewart: When the Yankees traded for Stewart at the end of spring training, it was a stunning and seemingly unnecessary addition. The Yankees had Francisco Cervelli, and Stewart was a light-hitting backup with limit big league experience. But he’s worked well with Sabathia and has chipped in offensively. His season looks even better because of the guy who’s playing ahead of him.
But then again…
Russell Martin: Ever since his terrific 2007 season in Los Angeles, Martin’s batting average has steadily declined year after year. It made little sense to expect him to suddenly become a .290 hitter again, but a .190 hitter?  Martin’s on-base percentage has remained surprisingly high, but he has just nine hits more than Eduardo Nunez who was never more than a part-time player and is now in the minors. Girardi has said he’ll keep playing Martin even if his offense doesn’t improve, but it’s safe to say the Yankees are hoping — and expecting — that it will.

Associated Press photos

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