We're just about halfway through the MLB season. The Yankees and Red Sox are having their perennial fight for the top of the American League East (and the Rays are catching up too). The Tigers, White Sox, and Twins are all duking it out while the Angels and the Rangers are swapping punches.
Then you have the National League.
The Phillies are lackluster in their title defense with the Marlins (yes, I just said the Marlins) on their tails. The Brewers and Cardinals are putting up some decent battles. The Dodgers are tops in the league, expecting nothing less from a manager like Joe Torre.
But alas, we're not here to talk about the NL...nor most of the AL.
We're here to talk about the Yankees. The 26-time World Champs. Granted, it's been nearly a decade since they've won a title, but hey, the Red Sox still have 19 more until they catch up with the Yanks. Sure, they've won two this decade, but we'll let history speak for itself.
Now it's time to go on a journey. This journey will take us through all the positions with analysis and grades. Get ready, because here we go!
First Base: Mark Texeira
Texeira is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) free agent signings the Yankees have made. As of today, Texeira is sporting a fielding percentage of 1.000. Through his 71 games played, he has not made one error (and hopefully that doesn't curse him for tonight).
He is second in the AL with 20 HRs, fourth with 60 RBIs, tied for fourth with 22 doubles, and is in the top 10 when it comes to walks.
There is no doubt that this signing was not a mistake. Thank God he didn't go to Boston.
Second Base: Robinson Cano
Cano is sporting a .991 fielding percentage this year, which is higher than his career best of .984, an average he's carried for three straight years. There is no doubt that Cano has improved defensively, but I think his offensive improvements are more remarkable.
His .300 batting average is modest, but it's low compared to the .342 he put up three or so years ago. His 12 home runs that he has puts him on pace for 26 by the end of the season, which will outmatch his career-high by seven. His 92 hits are tied for fifth in the AL and eighth in the league.
There's no doubt that this everyday player is maturing into the player that Yankees fans have expected.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Jeter's fielding percentage is at .989. This is much better than any year he's played.
People argue that he's gotten slower as he's gotten older, which may or may not be the case. Either way, he's become a smarter player as he's gotten older. He's figured out how to make that play while still saving his body for the next inning.
There's no doubt that he has his ups and downs at the plate. Take a look at these batting averages:
2003 - .324
2004 - .292
2005 - .309
2006 - .343
2007 - .322
2008 - .300
In 2009, Jeter is sporting an average of .307. If the trends are read correctly, then I think you can predict a meteoric rise in his batting average next year.
But I'm talking about this year. His batting is better than last year. He is on pace for 201 hits after only hitting 179 last year and 33 doubles after his 25 from last year. There is no doubt that he is getting better with age.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
Okay, first I'd like to point out that Ramiro Pena didn't do the greatest job while filling in while Rodriguez was out, nor did Cody Ransom. Yes, Pena did a great job over the weekend at shortstop, but not at third. You better bet that first month will affect this grade. As for Angel Berroa, I'd just like to forget about him.
There's no doubt that A-Rod's fielding percentage dipped when he came to the Yankees. His current FP of .961 isn't exactly the best we've seen, though it's better than the .937 of 2006 when he had 24 errors (yikes).
As of late, he's been on fire with the rest days he's been receiving. When he came off the diasabled-list, he was on fire as well.
However, there was a space inbetween when he just stunk. He's hitting .233 this year. After being at .260 at the end of May, he hit for .207 for the month of June. In the past week, his BA jumped by 26 points though, a sign that could mean that he's back at top form.
Either way, he could have done better.
Catcher: Jorge Posada/Francisco Cervelli
Posada has a fielding percentage of .986. Cervelli has an FP of .994. Kevin Cash had a 1.000 in his ten games. In 16 games played in, Jose Molina is sporting a .992.
After 51 games played in 2008, Posada was done. He has played 47 games out of a possible 76. That's not exactly great. He is sporting a .275 BA with 10 home runs though—he has modest production this season.
Francisco Cervelli is, in my opinion, the future catcher of this club. He is boasting a modest .269 in 67 at bats. Mind you, he's played in 22 games and he's only played in 25 in his career. He is on the Yankees' bench to learn from Posada, one of the best.
Oh, and there's the fact that if it weren't for an 0-5 day against the Mets on June 26, his average would be at .290.
Cash is known more for his fielding than his batting. In 26 at bats, he has a .231 average, which would be .059 minus 3-5 and 2-4 days against the Texas Rangers.
Before getting injured, Molina had a modest .273 average after playing every other day, however, he only had six RBIs. Not too great in the run production.
Outfield: Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Xavier Nady, Hideki Matsui(I know he's not an outfielder anymore, but Swisher and Damon often play DH as well, plus I'm lazy and don't want to give the DH its own grade.)
Damon has made four errors and has a .961 FP—that's not good.
Sometimes he just makes little league mistakes and essentially has no arm anymore. Brett Gardner has been spectacular. With an FP of .992, he shows his prowess out in center. If you search Youtube, you can see that he just makes outstanding plays.
Cabrera has been hot as of late. He's only sporting an FP of .968, but he only has one error. Swisher can't play the outfield, we know that. That's why he's in right field. With a .972 FP and three errors, he shows that he could be better, but he isn't. In six games, Nady was perfect with a 1.000, but he only lasted six games.
Damon is always a threat at the plate. He has 14 home runs and is sporting a .291 batting average. Despite his lack of fielding ability, he has the ability to be a strong hitter, and he shows it. When he's being spelled by Cabrera in left, he usually takes over the DH-spot simply because he is a bat that is missed when not around.
Gardner is a decent hitter. He has a .289 BA in 67 games played. Not bad for a second year player. He's been a clutch player all year. You are looking at the Yankees' center fielder. Not one of the center fielders, but the center fielder.
Cabrera had an amazing May. He closed it with an average of .323. However, his June was sub-par. He had an average of .286 by the end of it—a drop-off of nearly 40 points. Despite his slight stumble, he has still come through in the clutch, which is an invaluable asset.
Swisher has a subpar .236 average. Even CC Sabathia has a higher average. Then again, that's to be expected from the man that I dub "The Strikeout King." Swisher has 14 home runs though, which does help his case, though not by much. I'd rather have Nady out there.
Speaking of Nady, well, there's really nothing to say about him and his six games except "Nice try. Come back next year."
As for Matsui, his batting has dropped off. As much as I hate to say it, I really think his time in New York is over. His .248 average is disappointment from a man that had averages of .285-plus in his first six years in New York, though two of those years were majorly shortened by injury.
Starting Pitching: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettite, Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang
I will rate each pitcher separately.
Sabathia started slow. That's obvious. He started 1-3 with two no-decisions. Since then, he has been 6-1 with three no-decisions.
He finally melded with the Yankees and got the pressure that was on him under control. His ERA of 3.55 is down from the 4.85 that he had at the beginning of May. At 7-4, he's at a worse position than expected.
With his latest games though, it looks like he might reach 10-4 with no problems. Along with that, he boasted a .250 batting average in four interleague starts. Not bad for a pitcher.
A.J. Burnett started with two strong wins. He boasted an ERA of 2.70 after the second win. Then came a string of games that included five no-decisions and two losses. His ERA was at 5.47 at one point.
Since that string of games, he is 4-2 and has lowered his ERA to 3.93. It's still too early to see if he'll perform how he was expected to. He is still inconsistent. In June he was 3-2 with a pattern of win, loss, win, loss, win. I don't like the looks of it if he keeps on swapping stats like that. His 6-4 record was not the record that the Yankees were looking for. They would be looking for more like 8-2.
Andy Pettite started the season 5-1 with three no-decisions. After those nine starts, he was 2-2 with one no-decision (a come-from-behind win at Atlanta). He is also being inconsistent, but with his age, that is to be expected. He's still 7-3 at the age of 37. He still shows command over his pitches and he can go seven innings into the game.
Chamberlain has nine no-decisions. That's not exactly good. He's 4-2 in the games he's been attributed for, which really is not bad. His ERA has hovered between 3.70 and 3.95. That shows consistency as he rarely allows more than three runs per start.
The Yankees are 10-5 in the games he has started. He's not a bad pitcher, he just can't go more than five or six innings in most games, thus he loses many decisions as the Yankees have the habit of winning in the eighth and ninth innings.
Chien-Ming Wang is 1-6. His one win came against a beat-up Mets team. His ERA is over 10, which is down from 34. He also has a no-decision, which lasted 4 2/3 innings. He's made it to five innings in only three starts this season—the last three.
Relief Pitching: Alfredo Aceves, Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, Phil Hughes, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Brett Tomko, Mariano Rivera
All the relief minus Mo:
Four out of eight have an ERA under 4.00. All except Tomko and Marte have appeared in at least 15 games. In my opinion, Phil Coke is the most reliable reliever the Yankees have used. In 33 innings, he's only allowed 21 hits. He is consistent. Robertson, Aceves, and Bruney have all been decent as well. Hughes has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation and I think he's suited for the bullpen.
Mariano Rivera hit 500 saves this passed week. He has 19 on the season (which is tied for fourth in the majors) and a 2.84 ERA with one blown save. At this pace, he will have 41 saves on the season, his highest since 2005 when he had 43.
Overall, the Yankees are having a decent season. They started slow, but have strung together some winning streaks since A-Rod (the catalyst) came back. This season, I give the Yankees a B for their work thus far.