Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oakland Series Wrap and Centerfield Thoughts

The Yankees beat the A's in 14 innings yesterday thanks to a walk off homer by Melky "I'm Doing the Best I Can to Win My Job Back" Cabrera. The bullpen was spectacular last night after CC Sabathia had another shaky start, allowing 7 runs. The night before, the Yankees got a 5-3 win after 7 innings of 2 run ball from Andy Pettitte and an early offensive spurt; so, the Yankees come away with a sweep of the rain-shortened series.

SERIES POSITIVES: The bullpen, the bullpen, and the bullpen. Brian Bruney gave up his first runners/runs since opening day, but aside from that, the Yankees bullpen has been incredible. After relieving CC in the 7th yesterday, the bullpen held the A's scoreless for the rest of the game, striking out six and allowing only five baserunners. Jose Veras looked unhittable yesterday, striking out four over his 3.1 innings--he also only walked one and didn't allow a hit.

SERIES NEGATIVES: CC had another shaky outing, walking four while striking out only two. I would be alarmed, but CC had a rough April last year and rebounded nicely for Cleveland. After four bad starts in April, Sabtahia went on to post a 2.16 ERA, a 1.008 WHIP, a 5.45 K/BB, and a 9.42 K/9. Another negative is the fact that Joe Girardi had to pinch hit for Cody Ransom with Brett Gardner yesterday. You know you're having a bad day when Brett Gardner is coming into the game to HIT for you. Ouch.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Yankees have a day off today, except for CMW who's throwing an EST game to try and get himself right, and then they start a three game set with the Sox who've won seven in a row. The matchups are good ones with Joba facing Jon Lester on Friday, it's an alliteration battle on Saturday as Burnett takes on Beckett, and the series closes on Sunday with the veteran Pettitte taking on the young Justin Masterson.

OFFENSE: .271/.351/.485/.836, 114 OPS+, 25 HRs, 84 R
PITCHING: 6.02 ERA, 82 ERA+, 1.522 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 1.70 K/BB

Now, onto my thoughts about centerfield. Early on, I advocated for Brett Gardner to start over Melky Cabrera. At this point, Brett really ain't cutting it. He can't seem to hit his way out of a paper bag, and despite his speed, he can't use it if he's not on base. Melky may not play as well on defense as Gardner (who's actually playing poorly now, but in a VERY small sample size), but he's got the hot bat and Girardi needs to play the hot hand. If I'm him, I'm starting Cabrera over Gardner in Boston. This vacillating back and forth between the two of them probably doesn't matter much in the end. Why? Because neither one of them is a viable long term solution in centerfield for the Yankees. If Gardner continues to hit this poorly, he should stay on the bench. If Melky regresses to his norm as a barely league average player, then the Yankees will need to pull the trigger on a trade for Mike Cameron or Marlon Byrd.

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