The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Doom and Gloom in Yankee Blue

While I would like to be amongst the first to declare the Yankees season a failure, it’s still only April and there’s plenty of time for things to shake themselves out. Yes, the Yankees are in 3rd place and have a record of 6 – 7 after losing three out of four games to the Red Sox this weekend.

Going into today’s game against the Red Sox, the Yankees had a team batting average of .212, good for last (14th) in the American League (the league average by the way is .272). The Yankees also ranked 9th in on base percentage (.334 vs. a league average of .347) and 11th in OPS (.711 vs. a league average of .776). The Yankees pitching staff is a more respectable 6th in the league in ERA and WHIP, but a less respectable 8th in batting average allowed (a questionable metric though) as they are allowing opponents to hit at a .280 clip.

The depressing offensive statistics are the result of a collective poor performance by most of the Yankees highest paid hired guns., the Yankees’ most prized off-season acquisition, is off to an incredibly slow start – hitting .156 with an on base percentage of .269. also has more strikeouts (10) than walks (6), and although most of his hits have gone for extra bases, the totals are still small (four of seven). Yankee fans will be quick to tell you that this is to be expected because it takes awhile – two months is the figure I hear most commonly – for superstars to adjust to the big city. While this may be “true” I would think that could afford a sports psychologist or some other sort of professional to prepare him for the rigors of the New York media. Apparently not though. Enough railing on for now. I’ll be a fan of his as long as he keeps donating money to the University of Miami’s baseball program.

Jason Giambi, possibly in response to the BALCO and steroid jeers, is hitting a paltry .226 (although his on base percentage is extremely high due to a continued ability to draw walks). Backup first baseman Tony Clark and Travis Lee are hitting a collective .200 and are not drawing walks at a Giambi-like clip (a combined one walk between the two of them). Newly acquired centerfielder Kenny Lofton, who is now on the disabled list (although some would argue that in reality he was before, just not in actuality), is hitting only .167. The Yankees other centerfielder (not named Bubba), Bernie Williams, is hitting .212, but is reaching base and scoring some runs. Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Gary Sheffield have all had decent starts, although certainly nothing up to their All-Star/borderline Hall of Fame career standards.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, the Yankees are 6 – 7 now and two games back in the East. They are struggling – struggling mightily from a collective offensive standpoint, at levels that it is not realistic to expect them to sustain over the course of the long season. What does this mean for the rest of the American League East? Beware. The Yankees are lurking and no one has been able to put much distance between themselves and the Yankees. At likely their lowest point of the year, the Yankees are only one game below .500. It’s nearly impossible to even conceive that a lineup comprised of Jeter,, Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, etc, etc, etc, will hit a collective .212 for the entire season. They’re going to hit better. They are going to score more runs. And when they do those things, they are likely to win more games – whether Mike Mussina gets back into the swing of things or not.


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