Sorting out the Positives and Negatives in New York as April Closes
As April draws to a close, the New York Yankees find themselves 15-7, 1.5 games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. It was a good month for the Yankees, especially considering the slow start last year.
So far, we've seen some really good, promising things. We've also seen some not-so-good things. So what are the positives and negatives?
1) Robinson Cano
Since he was a rookie, Yankee fans have been talking about what a great kid he was and how much potential he has. Through his first five years, Cano put up very good, consistent numbers.
Yet, he still had some bonehead moves, wasted at-bats, and some immaturity. We would see this when he would take a half-hearted swing at a curve after missing the last pitch. We'd see him hang his head and pout.
But so far in 2010, Cano has been red hot.
No, actually he's been white hot.
As of April 30, he has a .400 BA, to go along with eight dingers and 18 RBI. And, as of April 30, he leads the Yankees in those three categories.
In an infield that already puts Alex Rodriguez at third, Derek Jeter at short, and Mark Teixeira at first, a young Cano makes them the best infield in the majors.
That infield plus the 2010 version of Cano makes them one of, if not, the best of all-time.
2) Brett Gardner
Reggie Jackson said earlier this year, "Brett Gardner can hit .250 on speed alone."
When Brett runs, your eyes have to work to keep up with him.
When Brett hits, it makes him a .323 hitter.
When Brett does both, it makes Yankee fans very, very happy.
After two years, Gardy is finally swinging the bat. He's earned himself some legitimate playing time, too.
In 2008 and 2009, he hit .228 and .270, respectively. This .323 is a very pleasant surprise for the Yankees.
A fan favorite in the Bronx, Gardy has added six RBI (out of the No. 2, 8, and 9 spots in the order), two doubles, and a triple to that .323.
Hopefully (I'll admit it, I'm a HUGE Gardy fan), he continues to play like this and give Joe Girardi reason to make him the full-time starter in left.
3) A.J. Burnett
Throughout 2009, A.J. Burnett was an enigma for the Yankees. He could pitch a great game, then get rocked in the next two,
Or he could have two great innings, then get bombed the next one.
The hot-and-cold pitcher went 13-9 in '09, and the record showed no indication of how inconsistent he was.
But so far in 2010, Burnett is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 20 strikeouts. He's pitched very well, especially in a recent April 28th start against the Baltimore Orioles in which he gave up zero runs on just three hits in eight innings of work.
If Burnett can pitch like this for the rest of the year, it will be very tough to win a series against a Yankee rotation that also features CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes, who has really come along as a starter.
The key will be Burnett's head. We saw too many times last year when he would throw a bad pitch, lose focus, and then serve up a homer or something else. If Burnett stays in control, he will be very tough to beat.
1) Javier Vazquez
When the Yankees picked up Javier Vazquez from Atlanta, I loved it because Vazquez, a 15-game winner in '09, could give us a reliable man in the four-spot of the rotation.
But so far, he's just 1-3 with a 9.78 ERA. His command is awful. He's leaving pitches right over the heart of the plate.
It could help the Yankees a hell of a lot if Vazquez gets things turned around. That would mean that all five pitchers in the rotation are dominant. As I said before, when you have a rotation like that, it's very hard for someone to win a series against you.
2) Nick Johnson
So far, we've seen some struggles out of Nick Johnson in the DH spot.
He's hitting .136 with one homer and five RBI. From a big guy who's supposed to give you a big bat in the DH, it's safe to say that he's not getting it done.
However, you have to remember, it's only been one month. Expect for Johnson to break out of his funk and to start producing for the Yankees.
3) The Pen
Mariano Rivera is pitching exceptionally well. The sandman, reliable as ever, has an ERA at 0.00, and seven saves in the same number of opportunities.
Sergio Mitre has pitched well, too. He displays a 1.23 ERA.
Other than that, it's not all that good.
With the exception of Rivera and Mitre, the rest of the pen combined puts up a 5.54 ERA: Something that really jumps out about a bullpen, the guys who shut the door.
Seven dingers have been served up, and 23 runs have been surrendered. The numbers aren't terribly horrendous, but that's where it's going.
Again though, it's one month into the season. Hell, Mo had some trouble last year in the beginning. If we can get the bullpen to turn it around, we can make it a lot easier on our starters and make these games seem automatic and a little shorter.
The Yankees are looking good. I think that this is a good pace, but it's now time to really step on the gas pedal. It's really time to heat things up.
Look out, MLB.
Here come the 2010 Bronx Bombers.
All stats and records as of April 30, 2010
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